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Coping with uncertainty and potential job losses

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Nursing Times’ resident Happy Nurse Claire Westwood on how to stay positive when you’re faced with difficult times.

A Nursing Times survey has identified what some nurses would do to save their jobs and to ensure they have some income and some type of employment over the next few lean years in the NHS.

There are several aspects to this argument including:

  1. Some of these options are bordering on emotional blackmail and they feed on the fear and negative beliefs of the staff
  2. Many nurses would often rather give great quality care that they get paid well for, than get involved in these types of discussions. Our representatives need to do a great job of making sure that nurses are not used as pawns or doormats by the financial managers.
  3. Nurses are also being called upon to find solutions to waste and let the organisations know how the NHS budgets can be slashed. This is a great idea, but many health professionals barely have the time to do all their current tasks without having to identify savings as well.

So, what can you do as a health professional to cope in these difficult times?

Many of my coaching clients have the same issues which lead to them being overwhelmed and feeling negative.

  1. One of these is having clear boundaries. How many times do you leave work on time? Or take the breaks your body and mind needs to do a great job? How often do you tell your manager or matron when you have too much work to do already or fill in incident forms when care is unsafe? Decide what your boundaries are and let people know what they are. Start to say ‘no’.
  2. Then take care of yourself. This includes ‘working to rule’ in political terms or ‘self-care’ in well-being terms.  Take your breaks, put your phone onto voicemail, leave work on time, find ways to get support at work –this does not mean sitting around creating more fear by discussing how terrible things are with your colleagues but really listening and helping each other through it.
  3. People ‘worry’ about all sorts of things that never happen, so it is all a waste of time and energy. Many of our fears in life do not come true. Find out what redundancies are planned in your area, get the facts and identify where you stand. Look at your pension and work out how you can make small changes to free up money to invest or save. The simple act of taking action and taking some control back will make you feel better.
  4. Get your CV up to date and look for alternatives before you need it! Get to job fairs and events and speak to recruitment companies just to get a feel of what you could do if you had to. Even if you do not lose your job, you will feel more positive by knowing you have other options – everyone does.
  5. Another way to deal with the fear is by looking at what would happen if the worst really did occur. If you did lose your job, then what? What would be the worst outcome you could possible imagine? Then look at all the things you could do, people you could ask for help, and ideas to stop you getting to that point. You are a resourceful person - so the ‘worst case scenario’ will rarely play out how you fear it will. Contact your union and get involved in discussions. Any action is better than doing nothing and sitting in fear. There is no point ‘worrying’ about this – if you can change something then do it instead of worrying, and if you cannot change it then all the worry in the world will make no difference!
  6. Make sure you are taking time out in your personal life as well. Many people cope with stress by drinking alcohol and caffeine or using drugs, but these are depressants, so are counter-productive. Nurture yourself with good food and activity, spend time with people you love and have some fun!

For some great coaching tips join our happynurses online webinar on August 17th:


Claire is a qualified nurse and Master Results Coach. She is a speaker, writer, trainer and coach and is the author of ‘The Happynurses Guide to Creating a Balanced Life’.

For a 30 minute ‘life boost’ coaching session please contact

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