I’d like to share an experience with you all. I’m not sure how it will be received but it’s an experience that has made a great impact on my life.
I had my dream job, I had conquered my phobia of needles, injections and blood. I had landed a job as a band 3 healthcare assistant in the neighbourhood team. This consisted of visiting patients within their homes and dressings wounds, taking bloods and so on.
It took me a year or so to gain my confidence with venipuncture (taking bloods) and I found it hard to settle in the team I was placed, this was due to not being busy enough. I was getting bored. I had arranged with my manager to work in a bigger team. I fell straight in and loved it.
I still had a bit of an attitude problem due to problems I had at home. But my manager was helping me through this and was a great support. We had regular one to one meetings, I was sent to counselling and she wouldn’t guide me when I veered off a little.
I completed my NVQ3 in Health and Social care which helped me gain respect from the team, they could see I wanted to please and learn all I could.
I built up some very good friendships. Due to my depression, I would get down a little and have time off. My sickness record wasn’t brilliant and this was causing a few little issues. But I got back to work, and tried my hardest to improve my sickness. I was doing quite well. Again my manager was a great support.
I was given the chance to do a degree in Health and Social Care Science which would make me a Band 4. I was so excited. I had 3 days to complete a maths grade and post it off and apply for the course. I did it. I don’t know how, but I did. My manager was proud of me and said that when I want something, I get it.
I got quite close to my manager and she became quite the mother figure for me. She would make sure all my shifts were okay, that my milage forms were correct, and make sure I have time sheets in on time. I became very complacent with things, as I knew she would make sure they were correct. Now, looking back, I understand that this isn’t the way to be.
Anyway, I started the course, which was a lot harder than I thought. I had to have a mentor too. The only person available was a Band 5 nurse, that I didn’t really know. My manager had said that she was very strict and made sure things were done properly. I thought this would be fine, and it was.
But this is where all the problems stemmed from. I would arrange to meet up with her, and she ”wouldn’t have time this week”. So I left it. I carried on with my work. I was transferred to another team, to learn about other aspects of the job, i.e. physio, orders and care plans. During this time I suffered a miscarriage, I didn’t feel like I had any support from my manager only my friend the HCA. I tried not to discuss it and got on with my work.
As many HCA’s and RGN’s will know, somedays you just can’t get that one blood from patient. Maybe they haven’t drank enough, or maybe their vein would just collapse. In cases like this, I would normally phone the hospital and tell them and visit again the next day. Which I did. When I arrived back at the office, I walked in and told the Band 5 (my mentor) that I couldn’t get the blood. In front of everyone, all the HCA’s, Nurse’s, student’s she turned around and told me I was useless, and that she was an easy bleed, I must have done it wrong. This particular nurse wasn’t keen on HCA’s and she thought we were nothing better that what is on the bottom of her shoe. She made this quite clear. She would belittle us, and say we couldn’t do a certain patient because we wouldn’t know what we were doing, even though we were fully trained and had visited the patient previously.
There were also little discrepancies going on. Band 3 HCA’s were doing first visits, filling out notes, referring to MDT. Were not meant to be doing these things, but didn’t really have a choice as the nurses would say they were to busy.
Myself and another nurse also caught another team out, they would say they were really busy all day and we found out they were sat in a GP surgery for 2 hours over lunch time. Nothing was done about this either.
Bearing in mind, I’d been now doing this job for 3 years now. I ignored it. Apologised, and got on with the rest of my day.
When I got home, I told my housemate about my day as I always did, and started to cry. The nurse had knocked my confidence in one fell swoop. Going to work the next day, getting my caseload and going back out without saying much, I got to my first patient and couldn’t get her blood. I left and went to my next, I couldn’t get theirs either. My hand started to shake and my eyes welled up.
I called one of the other HCA’s and asked if she would swap my bloods and I’ll take some of her patients. Luckily she agreed.
I went back to the office and discussed it with my manager, who advised that I ask to speak to the nurse quietly and take her to one side and tell her how she made me feel.
I did this, the whole time I was explaining how her comment had knocked my confidence she was talking over me, telling me that I should of been able to get it. I walked off and left it.
In the meantime I was still trying to get to meet her to discuss one of my modules. This was still proving difficult, but managed it. After our meeting, thing’s didn’t much improve, she would constantly say little things to put me down. It wasn’t just me, it was another HCA too, but she supported me and told me to try and ignore it.
I found this incredibly hard. I went to my manager and said I wasn’t happy in this team working alongside this nurse because of the things she was saying. My manager then went on to say that the nurse doesn’t mean it, its just the way she comes across. What I should do is when she say’s something, I should calmly tell her that I’m not comfortable with that remark.
The situation didn’t get much better. I started getting very low, I didn’t want to go to work. I would talk to my friend (the other HCA), and she would try to help.
I started messing things up. Writing the wrong times down, missing things, doing extra. My mind was all over the place.
I asked for a one to one with my manager. We sat there and I told her that I felt like I was being bullied by the Band 5 nurse and that she was making my life very uncomfortable. I explained that I had shown her an essay, which she told me was wrong and needed a lot more work, and yet when I had shown it to the course manager (who had designed the course and written the specs for the essay) she said it was very good. I felt like she was trying to make my life difficult. I can’t explain it any other way, but as soon as the word ”bullying” left my lips, her whole persona changed, her face changed, and she told me I was just being silly and that the nurse in question isn’t like that. (You also have to bear in mind that they have know each other for 10+ years). I was fobbed off. It wasn’t recorded and I was told to just concentrate on my work.
I ended up on the sick. I had damaged the cartilage in my knee from all the driving as well as getting low in mood. I was tired, crying or angry. Three things that don’t associate with the workplace to well.
I received a phone call from my manager, she explained that because I had been signed off for such a long time that she would have to do this over the phone. She informed that I was being investigated for fraud on milage forms.
I burst into tears. I couldn’t believe what was going on. How could this happen. I asked her how and why? But she couldn’t discuss it over the phone. She was very robotic with me. She told me that someone would be in contact with me to do an investigation, she asked if I would agree even though I’m on the sick. Of course I agreed, I wanted to prove my innocence.
The meeting happened and I was shown what the allegations were. I had made a mistake on the dates. I had also claimed for a trip to university that I hadn’t attended. (Which I had, I had just left as soon as I got there as my back and knee were hurting and was unable to sit for long). I explained what the issues were, and the investigator said she would be in touch.
In the meantime, I was getting worse and worse, I had no support. I was angry that my manager, my mother figure had ‘‘turned against me”. Normally she would say to me that she thinks I’ve made a mistake on my milage form or my time sheets and that I need to correct it. She didn’t this time, or the time before. She ignored my request for a one to one too. I started to see a little pattern emerging.
Because of the bullying, and because we had been told that the course was pretty much pointless because there were not any band 4 posts available, I had already decided that once I had completed my course I was going to find another job.
During my time at home, over thinking and worrying. I had decided that I was going to hand my notice in. I wrote it out and took it in to my manager. She told me she didn’t think that I could hand my notice in whilst being on the sick. I disagreed, and told her it’s tough, I’m moving in two weeks.
I had received a letter for a meeting to discuss the findings of the investigation. I was dismissed from my role the day before my notice. Accused of fraud. I tried to explain that it was a genuine mistake and I would never do anything of the sort. I was fired over £15.96.
I had two months left of my degree, and I had agreed that I would travel back up to continue with the course. Now I couldn’t do this.
I moved. I have now been out of a job for 4 months. I’m struggling in interviews, as I’ve lost all of my confidence. My depression is at it’s worst and I’ve lost the best job I ever had because I felt I was being bullied.
The NHS encourage whistleblowing. I wish I hadn’t bothered. It ruined my career.
Because of the situation I put in a grievance against my manager for poor management of the team and lack of support. All that happened was that ”She has learnt her lesson’‘. So that was also a pointless waste of time and money. Because of the grievance taking so long, and because HR failed to inform that I only had 3 months from the day I was dismissed to take it to a tribunal, I missed the deadline by 3 day’s.
This has also cost the NHS approximately £6’000 in university fee’s, to which they have wasted. I’m pretty sure the general public who pay their taxes and national insurance wouldn’t be to happy with that.
The nurse is still bullying other HCA’s. And trying to stand up for myself, and letting the team know its not acceptable to act like that, didn’t work either.
I feel totally let down, and I am struggling to get a job and be happy again. I have moved to a different county to get a fresh start, and it’s the hardest things I’ve ever done.
I wanted to share this because if there is anybody else going through anything like this. Go straight to HR. Keep records, time’s, dates and what has been said. Make your case worthwhile. AND MAKE SURE you take it to tribunal straight away.
Don’t let the bastards get you down. You’re better than that.