I would like to share with you my experience of an injury I sustained when working as an agency nurse doing bank shifts in a private hospital and highlight to colleagues the importance of knowing your entitlements when working for an Agency. Please make sure you are adequately covered for injury.
As an agency scrub nurse, I was booked to work out of London in a private clinic. This was to work two nights and two days in theatres. It was my very first agency shift.
On the way to the theatres, escorted by a porter, I slipped on the stairs whilst holding on to the rails and fell, sustaining a right dislocated shoulder. I had it relocated in A&E in a local NHS hospital and was given entonox and morphine.
I returned to London the next morning – the taxi fare of £220 was not covered by the clinic.
I have now been unemployed for many weeks due to the injury. The Agency left it to me to handle the compensation with the hospital and the Union could not help as I did not have a photo of the stairs or other evidence of steps being wet, etc. Therefore, I will get zero compensation.
Health and Safety at the hospital said I tripped over my own feet and I should have held on to the rails. When I told them that I had actually gripped the rails as it is my habit to do this anyway – they said I "should have gripped the rails tighter"! My argument is if everyone using the stairs is required to grip tightly to the rails, where are the signs to tell them to do this?
The hospital said a Riddor (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) was unnecessary. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) accepted my Riddor report online and promised to tell the hospital of their responsibility to report my injury.
So I urge my Agency colleagues, to be careful. If you are badly injured, ensure you or someone on your behalf takes photos so your Union can help you. Also ask your Agency about injury compensation before you accept shifts.
If you are on a permanent contract in the NHS or a private clinic and just doing the odd agency shift, you can get quick treatment and sick leave pay for your injury. However, if like me, you are on bank shifts, you get no sick leave and NHS treatment for your injury is painfully slow. I suggest investing in health insurance – I will be doing that now.
Above all, please be safe wherever you work, and extra vigilant when using steep stairs and also stairs with edges that are not non-slip covered. And most importantly, always remember to "HOLD TIGHTLY TO THE RAILS"!