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Jane Bates: Even handmaidens need handovers

Starting a new job is easier if there is a handover period, but too often it doesn’t happen, says Jane Bates

Starting a new job is easier if there is a handover period, but too often it doesn’t happen, says Jane Bates


Picture: Tim George

Why is there a growing tendency not to fill nursing posts until the existing incumbent has left?

Time was, you had a decent handover period when taking up a new job. These days it seems like the newbie is left to founder, with no one to guide them into the often complicated and wide-ranging role they are taking on.

I suspect this is because after a nurse gives notice, management are busy working out how the post can be downgraded – how they can get more for less, in other words.

Caricature and reality

It’s traditional for nurses to work above their pay grade, which suits everyone – apart from us, of course. Added to this is the lack of understanding about what nurses actually do, with this ignorance coming right from the top.

If health and social care secretary Matt Hancock believes we stand to attention when we encounter a medical colleague, anyone can believe anything. In some people’s minds – obviously his – nursing is still in the 1950s.

Fair enough. You don’t need too much of a handover if you are simply a doctor’s handmaiden. But surely most people know this was a kind of caricature and was never the reality, even in the old days.

When there are more than 280,000 nurses in the NHS, and our roles are more diverse and specialised than ever, such a misapprehension is perplexing to say the least.

Managers penny-pinch, it’s part of their job. But it must be cost-effective in the long run to have a proper, comprehensive handover for people who are new to a post. They are more likely to stay and, crucially, the job will be done properly.


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire

 

 

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