A worker at Dr Gray’s Hospital has warned a staffing crisis in the theatre nursing team is leaving existing staff exhausted and burnt out.
The whistleblower – who has spoken anonymously for fear of losing her job – has accused senior managers of creating unsafe conditions due to reduced numbers.
She claimed morale is so low that staff have left in high numbers, with those remaining picking up heavier workloads and allegedly being told they may have to work longer shifts to ensure the work is covered.
But NHS Grampian and the Scottish Government both insisted the wellbeing of staff is top priority.
Now an opposition politician has called for talks with bosses at NHS Grampian and the Elgin hospital – which is currently under so much pressure it is at code black.
‘Taking a stand’
The nurse said: “I just feel it’s time we spoke out and something was done about it. Twelve staff have left this year already, they were never asked to stay or asked what might have made their jobs better. The staff left are being used and abused and morale is rock bottom.
And now, because the department is so short staffed, management is suggesting that we do 13-hour shifts and go on-call overnight into a day off. That’s not safe at all. It could mean we are working for more than 13 hours and all because management can’t keep their staff”.
‘We do have 12 vacancies’
In a statement, Samantha Thomas, chief nurse in Moray, said: “We do currently have 12 vacancies within the theatre nursing team, due to natural staff turnover like retirement and moving to another position.
“Some of these vacancies have been filled and we look forward to welcoming new members to the team in due course. Active recruitment is ongoing to fill the other vacancies and we are also using agency staff where appropriate and available.”
The chief nurse added that “moving staff around the system, to ensure their skills and experience are put to best use” was part of the team’s response to Covid-19.
“This includes the theatre team and this is always done on the understanding that they will return to theatres immediately in the event of an emergency.
“I am very proud of the amazing work our staff have undertaken, under very difficult circumstances.”
The Scottish Government said: “The wellbeing of health and social care staff is a key priority, and we are committed to supporting them now and into the future.
“That is why we are offering an unprecedented package of wellbeing support totalling £8 million, which will continue the 24/7 National Wellbeing Helpline, the National Wellbeing Hub, Coaching for Wellbeing and Workforce Specialist Service as well as developing further practical support measures and additional resources for Boards.”
Calls for talks
Douglas Ross, Conservative MP for Moray and MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has called for an urgent meeting with NHS Grampian and the management team at Dr Gray’s.
He said: “We have great staff here locally but if they feel they are not being supported then we need to resolve these issues.
“I am getting contacted by more and more local residents who feel we do not get the support here in Moray from NHS Grampian and these revelations from a nurse will only heighten those concerns.”