There are many bad things about the work situation you describe. The worst thing about this (to my eyes) is that this describes the norm, not the exception. And the attritional effect of constantly having to scramble to meet the minimum needs of your patients, comply with regulatory demands and trying to keep your patients comfortable, cared for and treated well must eventually wear you down.
It raises a number of questions.
First, it's clearly not safe. Lack of of cover means you can't give patients the attention they may need. If a patient's condition deteriorates suddenly, nurses busy elsewhere may not be available to notice, let alone act.
Second, it's exhausting trying to keep all the plates spinning without a break. And exhausted care staff will get emotionally drained, they make mistakes, and their reserves of patience and goodwill will get exhausted.
Then they, quite sensibly, leave. Making the problem worse.
Third, if this, or something like this, is happening on every ward in every trust (and we don't hear much about trusts being fully staffed these days) then, on the numbers you describe here, 2 nurses are doing the work of 3. In effect, you are subsidising the NHS with your extra effort. And if this is the norm, then the Trust will begin not to treat this situation as an aberration, but as the new standard operating model.
This is wrong.
Simply put, this is an economic problem. Demand outstrips supply. As Alison Leary said at the Patient Safety Learning Conference yesterday, the NHS, unlike businesses, determines how much it chooses to afford then tries to meet demand.
Your blog demonstrates that this isn't working. In economic terms, a chronic shortage of nurses is prima facie evidence that nurses are, in hard cash terms, undervalued. If the NHS made nursing more economically attractive for people to do (by paying nurses more, by paying for more nurses and by subsidising training) more people would become nurses, the job would become easier, and this problem would go away.
This won't happen, of course, unless enough people understand the problem and push for a solution. And pieces like this one that you have posted can only help.
Thanks for sharing it.