Who cares 2

Nightingales and pigeons don’t impress an anonymous agency worker

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Last month, I was employed by an agency to work as a cleaner and porter at the Manchester Nightingale Hospital.

The NHS had three different agencies staffing the hospital, and on the day of my induction there were hundreds of people like me going through training.

I didn’t know what to expect on my first day. I don’t think anyone did. The agencies and nurses themselves told us they didn’t know how many patients they were expecting. One nurse told me she didn’t expect the hospital to reach more than 300 patients.

In my first week they’d taken on a couple of hundred people through various agencies, but after a week or so I started to notice more and more new staff coming in. I think it was the agencies

recruiting more people and profiting from it – it was just a money maker for them.

There were groups of 40 people turning up for work, but the work we were doing was pointless. At the time, the hospital only had four patients, and the shifts involved doing the same thing over and over again, which wasn’t necessary.

We were told to clean the wards, the walls, the floors, everything over and over again using the same disinfectant. People were just standing around, walking around, talking among themselves. We even had a supervisor who told us to make ourselves look busy.

There must have been about 20 nurses, but I’m not sure what they were doing – maybe they were busy doing paperwork or something. I’d say the patients had two or three nurses tending to them.

We were given PPE in the first week. We were supplied with scrubs but the nurses complained and said there wasn’t enough for them, so from then on we were asked to go in wearing our own clothes, but we were still supplied with surgical masks, gloves and goggles.

I did two full weeks, and then I got a phone call and was told they were laying me off. They said they were laying over 100 people off because they didn’t need us anymore, which I understood, because there were only four patients in the hospital at that time and it did seem like a waste of money.

There were a few things that I found quite strange. It was all open air, so you could see through to the top of the roof, and there were pigeons flying in. On the first day they had to get exterminators in to kill a pigeon.

They also made makeshift sinks but they weren’t on running water, and the water ran out really quickly, so then we just had to clean our hands with hand sanitiser.

I wasn’t surprised when I got laid off. I think the government has been completely unprepared and disorganised. From what I saw the Nightingale Hospitals are a complete waste of money.

As told to Saskia Murphy

Interact: Responses to Who cares 2

  • John Ethan
    23 May 2020 06:30
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