Purplegerberas's Blog

A rambling collection of my thoughts about life, my children and crafty things

Martyr Complex in the NHS

on August 11, 2011

Had a difficult few days at work. Nothing major, just frustration at other people and the work they create for you. I feel people are doing a poor job and then blaming us when we question that poor job.

One staff group where I work has a bit of a martyr complex. Whenever you speak to them you are given a sob story about how awful things are for them and how they can’t possibly do what you are asking.

I’ve defended these people for a long time and been as sympathetic and helpful as I can be. Sadly, my sympathy ran out yesterday so today my fightback started. I realised that I have worked in a department that has been understaffed for 3 years. Despite this we have improved standards of care and proactively worked to make things better. At no point have we sat back, admitted that we did a poor job and then refused to take any responsibility. It’s happening on a daily basis and I’m bored of excuses. It is also a common attitude – not just limited to a few people.

The trigger yesterday was a letter from a healthcare professional within this group of staff. A family had been let down by poor care and communication and we were blamed for part of this. A quick search through our records indicated that whenever we were involved our response had been timely and appropriate. I was really angry that my team were being blamed for doing absolutely nothing wrong.  I spoke to the person concerned and pointed out that I felt this was unfair. The response was ‘oh’.

How on earth do you get a message across to a large number of people that things are just as bad for other people? I sadly think that many nurses are socialised into believing that things are bad, will never improve so you may as well give up. My biggest complaint with this is that they use this as an excuse for delivering sloppy care.

Things have moved on in the NHS. The changes that we made were taken by our team on our own initiative. We knew that we had to adapt to survive and I think we did a really good job at it. Our latest satisfaction survey had 100% positive response to overall happiness with our service.  This is despite the fact that we are staffed at 50% of the nationally recommended levels. I’m not saying that we are perfect – we take criticism and improve things.

I do not understand how they expect things to improve if they spend all their time sitting feeling sorry for themselves and taking every suggestion for improvement as an insult and a threat.



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