My NHS Story begins in September 2000, when I worked on ward as a “Domestic”, cleaning the bays, making sure that under the beds were cleaned and the floors, all the patients tables and chairs were cleaned and dust free as with the bed side cabinets, cupboards too, and the most important job of the day was spending quality time with my patients, the Tea and Coffee run. And if we had the time which we did do at that time in the earlier days, to be able to talk with the patients as went along with our chores.
After passing 6 months strict and mandatory training. I knew for sure that I wanted to become a Health Care Assistant, which was my heartfelt dream since I was a wee lass. After 28 years in the Catering and Hospitality Trade, the only way to get your ‘foot in the door’ within the NHS was to become a “Domestic” to see if you liked the work and if you could handle working on the wards, emotionally, physically and mentally, it is not for the faint-hearted for sure. It takes a really special person to work within the NHS, a caring, attentive, empathetic, strong willed, patient, confident,understanding, communicative and listening person, you either have or not, you just can’t pick people off the street!!
Nursing and Caring is NOT a ‘9-5’ JOB, it is a ‘CALLING’ a Life’s VOCATION. The 3-4 years Nurses training and the same for a Healthcare Assistant as you all work as a “TEAM” . Believe me it is a gift to be able to work in such a respected and well established Institution that I felt Proud to be a part of in every way. I was finally where I wanted to be in my Life’s Journey, I was at Peace within my Life and Heart. I was a very conscientious and hard worker, always ready to help others and do the best of my ability and more.
After 6 months I felt that I was ready to apply for Bank Care Assistant, which started me on the ladder of becoming the Health Carer I always wanted to be, the start of a new career in the “Caring Profession”. I had my interview which was a breeze and natural to me with a Nurse in our family, my dear mother who was nursing for 60 years. Like Mother like daughter as they say. After our 4-6 weeks training and placement on ward we started our first shift as “Health Care Assistant” and I was loving it every single day. I was placed in the main wing in the oldest part of the hospital where my dear mother used work as an S.E.N (State Enrolled Nurse) as it was back in her day, in the day of the Navy Blue Cloak, Crisp Blue Uniform and Crisp White Nursing Hat, I was so Proud of my dear Mother, God Bless.
I loved my work, I loved my patients, I loved to be needed and helping others and being there for others and making a difference in peoples lives, was my reward. I strived to learn all I could from my fellow nurses and doctors on ward so to be able to learn how to look after my patients. I was honoured and blessed for this gift Amen. I worked in most of the wards and departments in the hospital Oncology (Cancer Care), Cardiac (CCU), Orthopaedics (Broken Bones etc…) Elderly Rehab & Stroke Care Including Dementia, E.M.A.U (Emergency Medical Assessment Unit), Acute Medical, Urology. I was truly blessed and very contented in my life’ journey and direction.
During the first year on ward I was experiencing some lower lumbar sciatic pain which was more of a niggle at that point, at that time I was working day shifts which were a lot heavier on the acute medical and rehab wards so after 12 months came up I decided to change my shifts to nights which fitted in with my life and I enjoyed with a few day shifts in between, now and then. After a couple of years I was requested on certain wards that was an honour in its self, also being a valued member of staff. I always treated the staff and patients alike, no-one had preference and if anyone had a problem or needed or wanted a hug I was always there for them too.
As years went on I was experiencing increasingly and more frequent bouts of chronic sciatica which caused me to take sick leave at least every couple of months or so which obviously was picked up by Occupational Health, and I was getting very tired due to the constant pain. I was referred to my GP who was extremely empathetic and knew I was genuinely in chronic sciatic nerve pain which I have had since I was 16 years of age. But unfortunately nursing and backs go together like getting on and falling off a motor bike and getting back on it again. Since I started working on ward and the work becoming heavier and heavier due to the hospital having to take on more patient load after other local hospitals and nursing homes being closed down, with no extra staff employed into the trust, which was ludicrous and becoming back breaking. Most staff working double shifts to compensate for the lack of staff on the nursing and caring part of the team, the stress was becoming evermore evident and the morale was becoming lower and lower. We had to do what we could with what we had, for who would look after the patients? All you heard on the tv and the radio, negative news via the media and government was how to cut this and that, financially and strikes and bed blocks and closed wards. There was nothing positive from the government with no constructive attempt to actually put things in place to the better and for the good of our beloved NHS.
It was a couple years after I eventually settled and working hard towards being a full time health carer on a permanent ward which had finally come when I was asked to join their Cardiac Team on ward and CCU (Cardiac Care Unit) which was a true honour, I had worked on the cardiac unit for at least a year and half. Thank the Lord. I was truly happy and contented, but it became evident that things were getting tougher and heavier, even though I was working night shifts, the graveyard shifts, I was also having to work days shifts as well. We all as a team had to pull together! Working 5 night shifts or more straight was becoming the norm and the day staff having to work more double shifts.
It was 22nd October 2006 and after working 5 night shifts and two 14 hr day shifts straight, it was on my second 14hr double shift the ward was chronically overloaded and lack of staff and a whole bay closed off for infection control. I was working in the closed bay and had one carer with me and 10 beds, and 4 of the patients had to be turned and cleaned every half-hour, God Bless. Anyone who works on ward would know that manual handling has to be implemented at all time. But there are times when manual handling protocol goes out the window and this was one of those unfortunate times. The carer who was working with me was half my height, and by rule the bed has to be ‘hip’ height of the shortest person, me being the tallest, which means whilst log-rolling a dead-weight patient the weight is not evenly taken so indeed our backs would suffer greatly. And after two 14hrs day shifts turning every half hour was indeed back breaking, as nearing the end of my last 14hr shift I collapsed, my sciatic nerve shot down my left leg from my lumbar and I followed it down in a heap on the floor, one of patients saw this and asked if I wanted a nurse and the other carer went to call a nurse. It took two nurses to get me up off the floor and to the staff room. The nurse in change that night made sure I had some pain killers and had to write a report in the accident book to cover her and myself. It was from then was a downward spiral.
After more sifting through all my medical notes and DWP letters etc…I found my old JSA signing on card, which took me back to July 2007, a year after my back gave way and was in chronic pain still. Even though I was in receipt of Incapacity Benefit, long term by then, and undergoing intensive and extensive physiotherapy, and David my physiotherapist had already started Traction for at least 8 months. Then after a 10 week Changes program at the physio dept which went extremely well, and then after I was referred to some Hydrotherapy in the gym pool at RHCH. I was at the point that I felt that I was preparing to go back into some sort of very light work. My DEA at Winchester Jobcentre had been seeing me and had meetings with me frequently, since I was forced to leave the NHS in May 2007, and I had my final meeting with Occupational Health and was released by David Henderson, Senior Physio Clinical Therapist. I was looking forward to find some sort of light work with the help of ENHAM my advisor was Charlotte, with whom I met at least once a week.
I was supposed to be redeployed back into the NHS Trust at the same hospital, but, that was not to be, they promised they would, but, they decided to use me as a scapgoat, and offered me a formal or informal dismissal without as much of a thank you for my hard work, which I gave to the trust and my patients 150% if not more. By then I was mortified and it felt that they pulled the rug from under me, which hit me smack between the eyes and knocked my confidence way back down with a bang, and I didn’t know what to do. Not even the Nursing Sister on my permanent cardiac ward, she did not turn up to my last meeting, when they sprang this on me without a weeks notice. Never again will I ever go back into the NHS. It completely broke me after so long being off work with my degenerative discs in my Lumbar Spine.
Well my back was at a good space and wasn’t going to get any better, my doctors and consultants have said, it’s as good as its going to get! Unfortunately this kind of chronic back pain is for life, there will always be a weakness, God Bless. So I just keep up the home physio, swimming etc and CHANGES pain management back course.
I signed on for JSA on the 04/07/2007, had meetings with ENHAM and my DEA at the jobcentre plus and started to look at so many jobs of course I had major restrictions with my health and being in recovery.
Name: Elizabeth Feeney
Type of work I was looking for: Light Cleaning.
(which is all I was able to do, and even that may be too much for my poor back to handle, but I had to put something down that was realistic, as I have already been told by my GP, Physio, Occupational Health that I was unable to return to work on ward, no lifting, no repetitive bending, no stooping, pushing and pulling. I couldn’t even go back into catering again, after a 28 year career in catering industry. And having to leave the NHS, was a God send and was done for a reason, as my health was deteriorating, in hind sight and looking back now to then, if the Lord had not have pulled me out of the worsening situation within the NHS, I would have been a lot worse than I am now, God Bless.
I was willing and able to start work immediately, even though I had to limit the days and hours I was available for work, as I found it hard to find work and was recommended be my medical team, and my DEA, that I was unable to do any work that would trigger my back again. I was told that I must normally be ready to start work immediately unless I had caring arrangements or other special circumstances, which I had, due to my back. I had to make myself available for the days and hours associated with the job I was looking for, which was fine indeed.
I gave them times I was available to work days and hours, which were Monday to Friday 09.00am to 5.00pm the most I could work on JSA was 20hrs a week. So I offered to work 4 hours a day Monday to Friday.
Other agreed restrictions on my availability and/or agreed restrictions on types of work. That I was looking for work in Winchester. I would be able to walk or reliant on public transport to work 20 hours per week.
NO LIFTING OR REPETITIVE BENDING, STOOPING.
NO MANUAL HANDLING.
NO HEAVY MACHINERY, Floor Buffing Machines nor heavy industrial Hoovers etc…as these would trigger my discs and lumbar back again and sciatic nerve. So I still had to be careful how I moved.
What I did to find work at this time was working with ENHAM towards job goals and cv etc… I looked in all our papers, in the ECHO, HAMPSHIRE CHRONICLE and the EXTRA. Made phone calls, went into town and searched, leaving a cv and contact details into all Charity shops. Nothing was available, or in most cases very steep stairs in the old victorian buildings, and went online every day to see what was available and went into Jobcentre most times when was in town, most days, job hunting. I had numerous interviews, but as soon as I mentioned that have been off work since 22nd October 2006, which would be have been approx 8 months. In those 8 months I was undergoing extensive and intensive physio, traction and an epidural.
It was demoralizing having to report to and sign on at the Jobcentre, humiliating, as I had worked since just before I left school in 1978, and had a career spanning 28 years in the catering trade. And always, reliable, well respected and valuable member of staff, and always went above the call of duty to learn more in many departments, hotels, etc.., which also The Hospitality trade & Tourism, I always gave my best. God Bless. But when Finally found and was given the opportunity to go into the Nursing/Healthcare profession, like mother like daughter.
Oh Lordy! The day had come when I searched the Winchester County Council website for internal jobs available and there it was ‘Part-time Cleaner’ Required, so I printed off all the information and prepared myself for an interview, I was so excited, I even rang to tell Charlotte at ENHAM and my EDA and went to the Interview. I won’t mention any names at all. This was my first interview since 2004/2005 when I joined the full-time ward was on when my back went in October 2006. This cleaning job was just the ticket I found on the Auto finder for HCC I was compelled to follow up, I thought at long last someone is going to take me on, even with ongoing back problems which have been treated as well as expected, as my spinal conditions are for life, only control to a point. The head of P.D.R Cleaning at HCC rang me back to make an appointment for the 24/08/2013 @ 9, 30am. I prepared myself and made sure I took all my meds early, at least an hour before I had to leave. I made sure I had all my paperwork and research I did of the company and job involved. Unfortunately the job was not vacant, but she kindly took all my details, cv etc.
Meanwhile, I had many interviews, one was just up the road at our local hotel, cleaning both bars and toilets, which would be perfect hours and only 5 mins from my place. All was signed and delivered and ready to start, but out of the blue the hotel boss who interviewed me, let me down badly and knocked my confidence. The hotel went up for sale two or three months after So yet another set back, and all the others would not take me on because I was a liability due to my back condition!!
So I waited for Vicky’s call from HCC for the cleaning job she had interviewed me for and accepted me and I was waiting to start. I had gone to Jobcentre to apply for an ADEG form for a new pair of trousers and shoes to start my new job, I was offered 10hrs a week which would be perfect to start me back in the job market. I met Vicky O’Connell on 3rd September 2007 to finalize everything, sign all the paperwork and pay details, Completed for uniforms YIPPEE To start my new job on the 24th September.
But what faith I had for the Jobcentre fell to the way side, and confidence shattered completely As the so called Jobcentre lost me my job for the sake of 85p!!! Frustration, disappointment, knocked the stuffing out of me completely. I rang Charlotte from ENHAM, she was so good and was the only one who actually cared and knew how close I was to breaking emotionally and physically, as my back was in so much pain through all the stress and anxiety and depression set in and I started to withdraw. The job I was waiting for so long, I went to the jobcentre to find out what to do next after the bombshell had been dropped with a big bang. Mortified and fuming I asked why and I was told that I could only work 9 hours instead of 10 hours due to the hourly rate been over £6.00!! So why oh why did they not tell me before!! They had the gall to ask Vicky, my prospective employer to see if she would be able to take me on for 9 hours @ £6.00?!! Of course she couldn’t! By this they put the nail in the coffin. I was beside myself, my fears of losing my job before it even started. Highly stressed and anxious with NO SUPPORT WORKER I was able to see Charlotte one last time before I had a meeting with my DEA Anne who gave me some reassurance, but Anne, my DEA was concerned with my health, and told me to go back to see my GP, that I was near breaking point and in chronic pain. All the miles I had walked from 4th June to the day I had to be signed off JSA to go back on Incapacity.
Due to this fiasco my health deteriorated fast, and my back went into relapse 1000 fold.
Life History & NHS
I was born in 1962 in South-East London and brought up in Winchester in Southern Hampshire. I Worked 28 years in the Hospitality and Catering Industry, housekeeping and cooking for Trust House Forte in many a hotel and hospital environment. I studied hard in-between and attained Business Enterprise and City & Guilds. After 10 years away of being away from home trying to find myself and coming to terms with and mending a few traumas and a health scare, major gynecology operation and undergoing treatment and therapy, I started writing about my experiences, feeling and emotions which took their form creatively in Poetry. Returned to my family and home town to a fresh start and new beginnings. Started a career in the caring profession at my local Hospital. As handed down in many generations on my mothers female side of the family, who have all been in the caring and nursing profession with pride and a natural way with people. As to be a Nurse, Doctor, or Carer, is not just a ‘JOB’, it is a calling, a ‘VOCATION’, which is a gift sent from our our Lord God, AMEN
In this time I was given a new start in life. I followed my heart and stepped onto the ladder as a Carer caring for others like mother, like daughter. I was truly blessed that I had found my belonging and heart felt vocation. I indeed felt at peace. Then after the first year, I started experiencing chronic bouts of Sciatica, and had to be off sick practically every other two months or so. I decided to change my shifts to Nights from Days and followed this path for the following 5 – 6 years working night shifts which I was happy with. Although at this time the hospital was starting to go through tough times like the whole of the NHS in the UK, God Bless. Less staff on all levels started dropping through ill health, and not enough trained nurses, not just on the frontline but on the wards throughout. It was 2003/4 I had to undergo an urgent Hysterectomy for which I had to be off work for at least 6 months or so. But me being me, I went back after about 4/5 months…I was a valued member of staff and I loved my patients and caring for my patient as with the staff too! They always knew they could come to me and share if they wanted to if they had a problem or just a hug on a bad and heavy day/shift. We were a great team, and looked out for each-other.
It was October 2006, the wards were very heavy with beds closing, lack of staff and every thing was going in a downward spiral within the NHS. It was after 5 nights and two 14-hour shifts straight with half a ward of staff and it was heaving and the stress levels were running high. I collapsed when my Sciatic nerve touched the floor, I followed it with a bang and this was in front of my patients which was embarassing to say the least. It was from then onwards that all hell let loose. After following usual procedure it was numerous and frequent appointments with Dr’s, Occupational Health, Physio therapists and Pain Management teams. After 3 – 5 years of tests, scans, intensive and extensive physio and traction, I was promised that they would be able to redeploy me back into the NHS at the Hospital which indeed gave me hope. But they never did. They decided to force me into Formal or Informal Dismissal due to Incapacity, with not so much as a thank you for 7 years service, and I was the scapegoat they needed as they were laying off nurses and carers at that time, which pulled the rug under my feet. Knocked my confidence right down and threw me into a downward spiral, what with the depression and the financial situation I now found myself in now having to go on benefits, this besides having to live in constant pain. I was diagnosed with extreme degenerative lumbar discs and chronic sciatica, which in turn affects my every day life by half. Which has become a disability.
Later in 2010, they found a curvature in my Cervical spine C4/5 and C5/6 which are severely degenerative and compressed, also compressing the Ulnar Nerve controlling the nerve in my left forearm, especially my little and ring finger respectively which leaves me with about anywhere between 15-25% grip in my left hand and between 85-90% weakness. And have limited movement in my neck /head which is constant Nerve pain, after strong medications I am on daily, pending a major operation on my cervical spine in my neck.
Well folks, today we had the worst news that my fiancee had his so-called ‘Medical Letter’ for ATOS, who ‘Don’t give ATOS’…As they have completely got it wrong, and have totally ignored all the facts given of my fiancee’s disabilities, and blatantly lied through their teeth, as when they were given all of my fiancee’s medical history and recent details and medical proof from his GP and Physio Therapist etc… they point blank refused and said they had no need for it and was not required and had nothing to do with his assessment!!! I was witness to my fiancee’s horrendous so-called ‘assessment’ and was appalled at the way he was treated. With this they changed subject and asked my fiancee to describe a usual day, what he could do and couldn’t. Not that it made a blind bit of notice whatsoever as they were not interested in my fiancee’s health nor the truth and the medical facts provided.
And promptly stopped my fiancee’s ESA stating that he ‘Is Fit For Work’ which is total ‘B*****t’!! Although he is is unable to walk far without two walking sticks and two knee supports one on each knee for obvious reasons. Because his lower back, Coccyx is degenerative with wear and tear ‘Sclerosis’ which in turn putting pressure on both knees which are both shoot anyway due to car accidents years back. As the nerves damage is chronic. Not only this but his damage to his left shoulder which keeps popping out of joint which does not go back in properly causing chronic pain. That i have to help him when his disabilities are really bad. Even though my fiancee’s GP, and Muscular & Skeletal Specialist have signed him unfit to work and singed him off for 3 months with view to continue investigations and further appointment with the Orthopedic Consultant pending.
And when the so-called registered, medically trained assessor asked my fiancee to put both arms up above his head, he could only put his left arm up half way up before it clicked out with chronic pain and she still wouldn’t stop. The real damage she caused my fiancee is when he had to get up on the couch which was painful enough AND SHE COULD SEE HE WAS IN AGONY!! When she asked my fiancee to lay down on the couch whilst she proceeded to lift one leg off the couch with no support to his knee, and then went to lift his other leg nearest the wall when it the twisted with NO support, and cracked, not even his physio therapist would have manipulated his knee as she did,and especially with no support, it was all I could do to watch this attrosity unfold and could not intervene as I was to be seen and not heard, I felt completely helpless and felt every pain my fiancee was forced to endure!!
We being very vulnerable at this time, looking to our future together, keeping the roof over our head and food on the table even though we are blessed, we REFUSE NOT TO LAY DOWN AND DIE!!! WE WILL FIGHT FOR OUR RIGHTS AS HUMANS and for a decent Life with Dignity and will Stand up and be counted for as we are a force to be reckoned with!!! IT IS TIME FOR ACTION TO FORCE OUT THIS TORY GOVERNMENT!!!!!!!!!
As for myself, I Am ex-Health Carer and was forced to give up a career in the ‘Caring Profession’, with severe spinal and cervical condition which has become a disability, Asthma, IBS, severe Anxiety and Stress caused by my ill health and the way us sick and disabled people are treated! I Hate being Ill! Am scared of being forced into a job I can’t do in the future, or having NO money at all and not being able to keep our roof over head or keeping the food on the table. as this darn Government/ATOS/DWP Have No care what they are doing to the sick and disabled people off this country. in fact they are making things worse with an unfair system and killing 73 sick and people a week, with their bulling tactics. Î am severely p****d off at “I don’t give ATOS” about people like us, myself and my fiancee at one of their so-called “assessments for want of a better word “B******t. Having to sit at a so-called ATOS / DWP assessment to watch my fiancee be totally humiliated to the indecent, inhumane, indignity of the way he was treated by a so-called NOT “medically trained/qualified assessor” who actually did more harm, which scares me to the point of when is it going to be my turn coming to meet this total ATOS Humiliation!! Worrying that my severe spinal and cervical conditions will become arthritic within the next 5 years with already signs of arthritic backpain. After working for the NHS for 7 years caring for those who are sick and disabled, watching this atrocity unfold is sickening and perverse and my prayers are with all of us who are being affected by this in a word “GENOCIDE”, it is truly a sad day for the UK!!
It is a Disgrace what this PM and his Underdogs are doing to sick and disabled people of this country while they swan around around parliament claiming for expenses and snacking their way through their biscuit allowance, and feeding the rich and condemning the poorest people like us who suffer and worry about losing our homes, lives and dignity.
Its about someone stepped up to the plate to protect the most vulnerable in our society as clearly this government is only interested in acting childish, calling us names and bullying us. life is hard enough without any kind of illness or disability, being condemned for being sick or disabled!
Life on benefits there is no Life on benefits, only existance if you’re lucky!
Time too STOP THIS NOW and Get this Tory Government OUT NOW, for the sake of all the Sick and disabled People who find it very difficult as it is to cope!!
PRAYER FOR GREAT BRITAIN
We pray Lord that you
raise up an army that
will bring this government,
And will replace it
with a party that has
been created by the
people who will work
with the people.
To shake the tree and
weed out the corruption,
pillage and rape, of
our country the
house of commons and
the house of parliament
of this Great British Land.
For the People are the Land,
they need your hand Lord
to walk hand in hand,
heart to heart, to send our
prayers for the sick n’ disabled
unemployed, the meek n’ lowly.
I ask of you dear Lord, Father
of all, we ask of you, we hand
this to you Lord, so we may
take a stance and live in
Dignity, Humanity, n’ Unity.
Peacefully, In trust, health,
caring Compassion and
For we the people have
No Confidence, No Peace,
and Inner Peace, Living
in High Anxiety, Mental
Poverty, I ask of thee,
Guide us in your Grace,
Love and Majesty. AMEN.
Written By Rainbow Warrior Lizzie Copyrighted (c) 12/03/2013