When COVID 19 hit us in March 2020 my role as a Staff Nurse and Staff Side Representative took my level of training to a whole new level. Suddenly the meaning of being One Team had never been so apparent. Staff were put under a huge amount of pressure both mentally and physically. With services stopping, staff shielding and being re-deployed to work in other areas out with their normal remit. The impact of COVID and what it meant to for key workers was enormous.
My workload increased overnight: staff members worried about themselves and their families, staff shortages and problems with skills mix. Theses are not new problems; we have been calling for the government to deal with staff shortages and improve skills mix for years. The crisis brought them into sharp focus.
I was very lucky to be able to work from home for most of the time. Like many I was trying to home school my children and that in itself brought additional worries for me. We very quickly learned how to use Teams online to hold meetings and keep in contact with work colleagues which was and still is a very useful tool. Being at home and not able to be as supportive to staff in person as I would like to have been was extremely difficult for me as I felt like I wasn’t doing enough for them.
I was deployed to work in the COVID 19 Vaccination Clinics. Being able to deliver such a vital programme and seeing the joy on people’s faces as they came for their vaccine was so fulfilling. Hearing their stories was very emotional. Some of the patients hadn’t left their homes or been outside for months and they were so grateful to be receiving a vaccine. I still continue now to work in the clinics when I can.
Almost 16 months later now and we are still facing some of the same issues with staff shortages and long term absences due to long-COVID, staff being off long-term and awaiting treatments and procedures which have been put on hold and delayed due to the pandemic. This will have financial implications for some staff if they continue to be delayed. Many are coming to the end of their sick pay entitlement due to the waiting times. There are still so many challenges to support members through.
Staff wellbeing must be the focus of the Scottish government moving forward and we must build back better. This has to be a priority for all staff.
Blog by Louise Noble, Frontline worker
Staff Nurse/Staff Side Representative
UNISON Fife Health Branch