I have not written much about COVID-19, as the information is changing daily and we are already bombarded with updates. However, I feel it is important to share one practice nurse’s experience that has left her feeling let down by her employers. With permission and in Natasha Sinclair’s words, ‘I am worried and really upset during these difficult times. I live alone with my young daughter and have now been at home for 12 days of self-isolation and I am due to return to work this Friday. I emailed the practice manager asking how I will be paid for those 2 weeks and to let them know that my daughter’s school have reduced hours so I will be half an hour later in the mornings and need to leave half an hour earlier.’
‘The practice manager responded that I will receive statutory sick pay (SSP) for the two weeks I was off. My pay will be reduced to reflect only the hours I can work and I will have to take Easter (if I cannot arrange anything else before then) as annual leave.’
‘I appreciate that I am probably not the only one in this situation. Everyone is feeling it right now. We are definitely in difficult times. However, I am now worrying about how I am going to survive financially, pay my bills and feed myself and my daughter. SSP for 2 weeks is going to have a huge impact, and we may have to resort to food banks to feed us.’
As practice nurses we are resilient and adaptable. We are also tough. Yet some are having to define their role once again, while supporting their patients and their teams. In these unprecedented times it is vital we are willing to be adaptable and to work out of our normal comfort zone in order to support our allied health professional colleagues and help our patients.
But this should not be to the detriment of our physical or mental wellbeing, or our family commitments. Support from our employers at this time is paramount. Maybe now the employment terms and conditions of practice nurses will be taken seriously. If employers themselves will not take action, we need the government to step in and force the issue. I am sure our nurse leaders, including the chief nursing officers for the four nations, the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), will be advocating for us at the highest level, and we’d welcome their thoughts on this.
We would love to hear your stories on how COVID-19 is affecting you. Surely this is not an isolated occurrence?