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The big question: do nurses receive enough emotional support at work?


Chief nursing officer Jane Cummings told MPs at the Commons health select committee that it is difficult for nurses to remain “compassionate all the time” given the emotionally draining nature of the job.

Ms Cummings was giving evidence on the state of nursing and she fielded a range of questions from MPs on staffing levels, patient safety, use of technology and the “6Cs” nursing strategy.

“Nursing is a very emotionally draining job, it’s hard work; it’s physically hard; it’s emotionally hard,” she said. “There is something about how we look after staff and how we give them the time and the space when necessary to take a step back and have a bit of breathing space.”

Ms Cummings highlighted that when nurses were very busy “day-in day-out” dealing with very complex tasks “it can be quite difficult to remain compassionate all the time”.

Do you think the emotional labour of nursing impacts on compassionate care? Does your workplace give you emotional support?

Your comments could be published in the magazine.


Readers' comments (4)

  • Here are a couple of ideas for Cameron and his mob.....

    Ensure that there are, at least, adequate staffing levels and required resources available at all times. Unfreeze nurses pay and start paying us what we are worth, stop threatening us with much less by scrapping Agenda for Change and get your mitts off our pensions. Sack Cummings and Bennett.

    That's just for starters. I have a long list. But I guarantee that these measures will go a long way to cheering up the workforce and making them feel supported. I don't think that most of us struggle with our complex job. We struggle when we are unable to do it safely and to the best of our abilities due to a lack of staff, imossible amounts of paperwork, silly, meaningless targets, etc., etc.

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  • If you can't know what someone else is going through unless you walk a mile in their shoes, then I would like to see Cameron, Clegg, Hunt et al, work a week alongside nurses and healthcare assistants, without the media and visible cameras on show (maybe something like 24hrs in A&E), working in uniforms/scrubs, not wearing shirts, and getting in to deliver patient care, talking with patients, helping with eating, drinking, washing and relieving their anxieties.

    Our workplace does offer a reasonable level of emotional support to staff, though some areas are better than others but that's probably due to circumstances of those areas. Our work is physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. Although our primary focus of care is always on the patient, a lot of times we also have to look after relatives too. Sometimes they can be very anxious and distressed, and this can show itself in all sorts of ways.

    Its not just support from our employers we need to receive. Support also comes from colleagues, families, friends and also the community we live in. The effects of constant negativity, abuse and bullying is well documented; and this is what a lot of staff feel like their going through. We are also affected by the same things affecting our patients and relatives, as we may also be a patient or a relative of someone receiving care.

    It would help if the government gets its priorities right, give us the resources and support us to do our jobs right and well, rather than give us the same old rhetoric and excuses.

    Emotional support and compassionate care of patients AND staff can be positively developed and nurtured. But to do this well, not only the culture of the healthcare professions need to improve, but that of the whole society must also change.

    However good or bad things are, this government is in power now, not the previous one. Any improvements and changes must be made NOW, not in 5, 10 or more years time. That's another government's lifetime away.

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  • NO, is the simple answer to the big question.

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  • Emotional support is not necessary to be honest. We cope despite it all. I would trade away my trusts counselling service in exchange for £30000 a year to start. Emotional support isn't a resolver of much in our business.
    This is another unnecessary question with only one answer. Support is what we need ut whilst our own managers sit by whilst our NHS is being dismantled by stealth and politicians work to drum up business for their friends and their failing companies support I'm afraid is as worthless as 90% of the office lurkers occupying prime salary and real estate within hospitals today

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