As the government pushes for more consultant nurses, 30 per cent of posts remain vacant. I recently resigned from one of these.
Much work went into my recruitment, but what about once I arrived? I was left out of the carefully designed organisation chart and never felt part of a team.
In clinical areas, I was welcomed as an expert practitioner. Among managers it was a world of mixed messages - respect for my expertise when it suited, rejection and personal criticism when it challenged the management agenda.
It was a world of constant 'fire fighting' - apparently the only way the organisation could function. I was appointed to 'make a difference', yet poor standards, recruitment difficulties and bed shortages forced constant compromise. A colleague from west Germany, when visiting, felt the service was comparable with that of Poland.
Was I employed to make a difference as an expert practitioner or as a cheap alternative to a medical consultant? Once the honeymoon was over it felt like the latter. My role included clinical work across the health economy and university lecturing. I was a lead researcher and practice developer. In addition, I continue to represent my specialty at a national level.
However, I could not work for the modern NHS. The organisation must learn to care for and respect people, value what they offer and not use them as just another tool to fight the daily chaos.
I needed regular support, partnerships with nursing directors, realistic expectations and objectives, better communications and the basic tools to do the job.
Six months into the post I still worked on a dining room table, had no phone and kept confidential information in the boot of my car.
Despite one very bad experience, I remain convinced that these posts have much to offer our clients and the nursing profession. Nursing directors have a major part to play in ensuring these posts work.
We need your expertise and support, the opportunity to work with you as partners, sharing and pooling our different talents.
The NHS must somehow move away from a 'firefighting' mentality to realistic goals based on the resources available and in a true partnership between managers and staff.
For the first time, I really do understand the pressures on consultant medical staff working in the NHS.
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