Letter: Nurses who need healing

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The Independent Online
HOW SAD that so little is done to help nurses and other health staff manage the stress inherent in their work (''Nurses may face drug and alcohol tests'', 13 November). Most of those I have worked with reported that there was rarely an appropriate place to express feelings of work-related distress and no time to reflect on problems.

There are clinical and counselling psychologists who routinely offer staff support sessions. However, in my experience the take-up rate has been small. Reasons given include feelings of shame about receiving support, as well as guilt about leaving too few staff to cope on the wards. If only more strenuous efforts could be made to provide those responsible for patient care with enough support. It would maybe then be possible for health staff to manage their stress without resorting to destructive solutions. Long-term constructive mechanisms are urgently required so that stress can be managed in a contained way, rather than neglected and then punished.

Dr Sandra Delroy

Clinical psychologist

London N3