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Snow excuse for skiving off work


In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s a bit cold outside. The weather is so bad that many nurses are struggling to get to work, and Beyond the Bedpan is sympathetic to their plight. If only managers felt the same way.

The apocalypse is upon us! Or maybe it’s just a few inches of snow. In any event, the Big Freeze has has reduced the country to a shivering wreck - offices half empty; streets turned into ice rinks; public transport in meltdown. And a poor woman in Scotland has apparently not returned home since leaving to do the Christmas shopping on December 23rd (she’s safe, but her husband is hungry).

It is, in short, the end of the world. Or at least you would think so by the hysterical media coverage this week, when even an attempted coup to bring down the prime minister failed to dislodge it from the top of news agenda.

The freak weather is obviously adding to nurses’ workloads as patients come skidding in with all manner of bruises and fractures, and they patiently explain to the anxious multitudes that a few sneezes does not mean swine flu.

But what about nurses themselves? While many professions are building snowmen before retreating indoors for hot cocoa, nurses have been tersely reminded that they should “make every effort” to get into work despite the weather. If they don’t, they can expect to have the time treated as annual leave, or made up at a later date.

Beyond the Bedpan understands what a vital service nurses provide, but why should they suffer if they are genuinely unable to get to work?

At best, the RCN advises that they might use time already owed to them, or take it as unpaid leave. How kind.

So if you are looking at a treacherous descent through jagged ice to get to work, with the cold freezing your eyelids shut and polar bears trying to eat you, the official line is: tough luck, get on with it.

Has your trust been unfair in its treatment of snowbound nurses? Or maybe you struggled in heroically, only to find that other members of staff were not as dedicated? Please let us know if the comments box below.


Readers' comments (30)

  • I have to say that Derbyshire County Community Services management have been extremely understanding and sympathetic towards us- we are asked to get to our normal place of work if we can- or else our nearest surgery/ clinic on foot. Failing that, if we really can't get, or if it's too dangerous to venture out, we do not have to take it as time owing or holidays- it's an act of God and that's that. My staff have made heroic afforts to get to work this last couple of weeks and have swapped days off etc to ensure the patients get the treatment they need. Thankyou one and all.

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  • I sympathise with those who are unable to get to work. And I am seriously kidding. I suggest they enjoy the time off to the fullest extent possible and not to feel guilty. It is a problem many face and is not one of their making. Of course there are always going to be a few who stretch everything to the limit and beyond, nothing new there, and they should be dealt with on an individual basis, not have a blancket policy penalising everyone for the laziness of a few

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  • Can I just say has the NHS gone mad. Im a district nurse and over the last week have walked miles and miles to see patients as I was unable to get there by car. I wasnt thanked by my managers, which is not unusual, I was infact greated with an email stating if you carnt get into work then you lose a days pay or if you get in for half your shift you get a full days pay. I just could not beleive it, we as district nurses never close our doors we take referrals at any time of the day or night. I have been to work today and one patient said how come I get a district nurse everyday but the dustbin man carnt empty my rubbish. I rest my case!!!!!!
    Keep up the great work xx

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  • Hi, I live in a small village in S.W. Scotland I don't drive so rely on the bus. We had heavy snow last Wednesday and I waited for the bus in -9 temp. The bus never came so I walked the mile back home slipping and sliding. I was frozen to the core when I got back, even though I had 3 layers on, hat, gloves and hiking boots. I phoned the hospital and was made to feel like a skiver, as if I was exagerrating the conditions. I was told the hospital would send someone out to get me + they would be in touch. I waited and waited; in the end I phoned twice and each time was told they would get back to me, nobody did. Near lunchtime a colleague phoned to say, the boss said they wouldn't be coming for me. I knew I'd have to take this as annual leave, even though I sat around waiting, dressed to go to work and had to stay near the phone (no signal on mobile). Most of the staff live in or near the town so don't know the conditions out in the country. I certainly wouldn't want to give up a days holiday because of weather conditions, so why would I lie? It's shortened my only remaining week in March. I feel everyone is being tarred with the same brush. In 20 years, that is the 1st time I've not made it to work due to the weather.

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  • As usual nurses are defecated on from a great height.

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  • Mertha Nyamande RMN

    some managers dont really care about their staff and its obvious to them that nurses not turning up even in such extreme conditions is not acceptable to them because it means their budgets are compromised. they forget that not everyone drives and if they can make it to their friends for tea, so should staff make it to work. they also forget that the staff earn a lot less to afford reliable cars to get them to work safely in such weather conditions. not everyone owns a 4x4. Natural disasters happen and must accept this as a fact and make contingencies. provide a bus or some sort of transport for your staff to come in. its inconvinience to the purse, but its also inconvinient and unsafe for staff.
    if you can, then get in and help out. thats what leaders do, lead by example, not just point fingers, push blame and make threats not to pay your staff.
    This is nursing: having a heart is a requirement

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  • well said we go beyond our duty of care, we work well beyond our hours of work and what thanks do we get, ohhhh I no what they tell us we are no longer going to get regular user allowance and that our milage rate will be cut in half and we only have one lease company we can use so the rates will be high as there is no competion. Thats our thankyou of the NHS

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  • I sympathise with all of you. When I lived in England, I made a number of trips in bad conditions, one took 2.5 hrs when it normally took 20 mins. Luckily my colleagues and immediate manager did appreciate it. I now live near Christchurch in NZ. When there is severe weather forcast, management send round info and the 4wd club offer assistance to bring staff into work and to get them home. Sensible arrangement. Thankfully I have not needed to call on them yet. Jo

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  • anon 9 1 10 4.03 pm It's great that you can get to your patients on foot in the snow and ice but the dustbin men can hardly carry everyones rubbish to the dumping ground!!

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  • As we all are aware, nurses are just commodities, not people. Treated like rubbish, a 'necessary evil', spoken to like dirt by doctors, patients, relatives.....expected to break their necks getting into work while managers lord it at home in front of the fire. Oh, how I long to get out of this 'profession' - I wish I'd listened to my dad years ago.....

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