Former Lothian MSP cites wife's 26,000 steps to highlight pressures on NHS staff

A former MSP has highlighted the tough demands his wife faces every day as a nursing assistant to point to the pressures being experienced by NHS staff.

Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 12:30 pm

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Neil Findlay, who stood down as a Labour MSP for Lothian at the elections in May, took to social media to voice his concern about the situation.

He posted on Twitter: “My wife walked 26,000 steps today in her 12 hour shift at the hospital – over 11 miles – I have no doubt many NHS staff are doing the same – no wonder staff are knackered.”

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Neil Findlay stepped down as an MSP in May

It prompted many responses echoing his point and expressing fears about the future of the health service.

One nurse said: “I sympathise with your wife. So exhausted after my shifts. No energy to do anything while off. The wards are on their knees. Unsafe for patients and staff but plenty of management sitting in offices.”

And a patient, who said she had been admitted after collapsing, said: “Hospital staff were running around like headless chickens – overworked as well as underpaid. One doctor was yawning like a hippo and still had another shift to do. Our NHS is in bits.”

Mr Findlay said: “If you look at some of the replies, people are saying this is normal, this is what’s happening in the wards, people are just knackered.

"I have also heard from people in the community there are a number of nurses and clinical support workers who are simply resigning their posts because they simply can’t do it any more.

“They are just shattered and under pressure – it’s so intense; the number of people coming through the door, there’s no let up.”

He said the root of the problem was staff shortages and large numbers off sick.

It comes at a time of what NHS Lothian has called “unprecedented pressures” when Covid admissions have been rising, accident and emergency department at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary is said to be “bursting at the seams” with patients having to spend hours on trolleys, non-urgent operations have been cancelled and soldiers are being drafted in to drive ambulances.

Nursing and midwifery vacancies across Scotland have hit a record high while union leaders have highlighted a "worrying rise" in numbers off with work-related illness.

NHS Lothian has confirmed it is recruiting 422 nurses over the next two months, but that still leaves 46 per cent of vacancies unfilled.

Mr Findlay said said in the initial stages of the pandemic there had been a lot of talk about staff wellbeing, but that all seemed to have gone now.

“Over the last few weeks I’ve spoken to many people who work in the NHS and they’re telling me that a lot of the time they’re not getting breaks, they’re barely getting something to eat.

"We hear a lot of talk about staff wellbeing in the NHS. If political leaders genuinely believe the NHS’s greatest asset is their staff then they have to look after them so much better than they are at the moment.”

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