An NHS whistle-blower has claimed droves of nursing staff are leaving Tayside in protest over “ancient” shift patterns which are leaving health professionals exhausted.
A concerned nurse contacted The Courier to express her frustration over shift patterns deployed by NHS Tayside.
It is claimed staff have grown fed up over the health board’s insistence on using eight-hour shift patterns instead of “more flexible” 12-hour shifts.
As part of a strongly-worded statement, the furious health professional claimed many staff are leaving NHS Tayside hospitals in favour of work in nearby Fife and Aberdeen.
It is also alleged staff working up to 10 eight-hour shifts in a row are concerned for both their safety and that of patients
As NHS Tayside seeks 150 new nurses, the whistle-blower said: “I am not in the least surprised.
“They are the only trust to still not offer flexible 12-hour shift patterns like every other trust around.
“I have never worked these eight-hour ancient shift patterns which NHS Tayside seems to like, where by finishing at 9pm and commencing again at 7am gives us a maximum of around six hours of decent sleep.
“I have always worked 12 hour shift patterns which for me overall seems to benefit both patients and staff, as I would always have the same patients for my three or four-day stint.”
According to the nurse, many colleagues are terrified of becoming “burned out”.
The whistleblower added: “Every nurse, healthcare assistant and nursing assistant I discuss this issue with has the same opinion — burnout.
“Working eight to 10 stretches of eight hours makes people sick.
“Working four days 12 hours is manageable, so why does NHS Tayside not offer flexible working times?
“Many staff are leaving to work in Aberdeen or Kirkcaldy or agency rather than work these awful shift patterns and I for one might be one of them soon.”
Irenee O’Neill, general secretary of nursing union, the Independent Federation of Nursing in Scotland, said all health boards are moving towards 12 hour shift patterns.
She added: “Shift patterns have to fit with family friendly policies set by the Scottish Executive.
“Everyone is moving towards 12 hour shifts as it is much more financially lucrative; you can run hospitals with much less staff.
“There has to be meaningful consultation about shift changes. Where there are nurses with childcare issues, this has to be factored in.
“There has to be consultation and not just communication. It’s beyond me to try and understand why health boards have such difficulty with this.”
An NHS Tayside spokesperson said: “A roster policy has been in place in NHS Tayside for a number of years and was developed in partnership with staffside representatives.
“It acknowledges the need to balance the effective provision of clinical services with supporting staff to achieve an appropriate work life balance and reflects its purpose of ensuring effective and safe rostering of nursing staff across our clinical areas.
“The roster policy is currently under review and will take in to account the evidence-based teaching ensuring that working patterns promote staff wellbeing and high quality patient care.
“We would encourage any member of nursing staff to raise any concerns they may have regarding their working pattern with their line manager.”