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Jane Bates: Agonising over putting patients before family

Maintaining a work-life balance in the face of serious staff shortages is proving tricky for Jane Bates.
family

Maintaining a work-life balance in the face of serious staff shortages is proving tricky for Jane Bates

It was drummed into us at PTS, said a nursing friend sympathetically. PTS, for those not of our vintage, was Preliminary Training School, where we fledgling nurses learned how to sew our frilly caps and align hospital bed wheels with the meridian.

We also learned about nursing ethics and duty. Many of our seniors, our role models, had eschewed family life to dedicate themselves to nursing, so putting patients before our own concerns has been dyed in the wool.

Fast forward several decades and here I am, the last nurse standing when colleagues are either on holiday or dealing unexpectedly with illness.

Feeling bad

There is literally no one else to cover our shifts. If I do not step in, patients

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Maintaining a work-life balance in the face of serious staff shortages is proving tricky for Jane Bates 

family

‘It was drummed into us at PTS,’ said a nursing friend sympathetically. PTS, for those not of our vintage, was Preliminary Training School, where we fledgling nurses learned how to sew our frilly caps and align hospital bed wheels with the meridian. 

We also learned about nursing ethics and duty. Many of our seniors, our role models, had eschewed family life to dedicate themselves to nursing, so putting patients before our own concerns has been dyed in the wool.  

Fast forward several decades and here I am, the last nurse standing when colleagues are either on holiday or dealing unexpectedly with illness.

Feeling bad

There is literally no one else to cover our shifts. If I do not step in, patients’ operations will be cancelled. But I also have pressing family commitments which no one else can cover, so what should I do? Family or patients? 

I have had to reach a compromise, which leaves me half-neglecting family and half-letting down patients. I still feel bad, but in a fragmented kind of way. 

I know the guilt should not be mine – it is the fault of those who pared back services to such an extent that there is no slack in the system. But I can’t get it out of my head that it is my duty to save the day. It was drummed into me at PTS. Dyed in the wool. 


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire 
  

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