Last night I went out for a meal with work colleagues as one of our Sisters was taking early retirement. It was a bittersweet occasion as, although it was lovely for so many of us to go out together (about 40 of us), it was sad that nearly half of the people who came had either retired or left the ward to work somewhere else.

When I started on the ward, four years ago, there were only 15 patients to look after! Many of the staff had worked together for years and they were a very close-knit group. I was nervous when I started, especially as I didn’t know any of them, plus I was undertaking a new role which nobody understood!

Well I needn’t have worried as they welcomed me with open arms, and gave me all the help and support I needed over the two-year training period, which certainly went a long way towards me qualifying at the end of it!

After only a year of working there, we had to amalgamate with another ward which led to a lot of uncertainty. Staff left, some deployed elsewhere, and we gained others, so that in the end, we had 27 patients and more than a few disgruntled staff. some of whom did not ‘sign up’ to work on an elderly ward!

We had a lot of ‘us and them’ situations as well, before we became a cohesive team that sorted out the differences and found a way to work harmoniously. Added to that a load more staff leaving, more uncertainty, changes in ward management, staff being used to cover other wards, and chronic shortages of staff in general, and it became quite a stressful place at times.We had enough to contend with due to the type of patients we looked after, especially as many of them liked to try to escape or wander off!

What I love about working there though is the kindness, professionalism and compassion of those nurses, They are all so dedicated to their jobs, and we have still managed to have forged a great team. Certainly for me, having had to have time off when I have been particularly unwell, coming back to their hugs, well wishes and concern makes me realise how lucky I am to work there.

Working for the NHS, us nurses get a lot of negative comments in the media who love to bring us down. Yes, there have been a few incidents that have been highlighted of appalling care and mistreatment of patients; however, those people do not represent us all. The majority of us do care, and are dedicated to looking after our patients.

Last night made me realise how proud I am to be part of the nursing community. I am only sorry that for one reason or another, we are losing so many wonderful nurses who are disillusioned with the lack of support,lack of staff, and increasing workload (paperwork) that means that they cannot carry out what they joined up to do!