Nurses working in the city's Alcohol and Drug Recovery Service have blown the whistle on conditions as they grapple with poor mental health and overwhelming caseloads.

Two addiction service workers have come forward to share the harrowing reality of their jobs in the hopes of sounding the alarm about staff shortages and lack of funding. We are protecting their identities.

One newly qualified addictions nurse said a manageable caseload would be around 30 patients but they were given a caseload of 50 "due to the lack of staffing".

They claim that job pressures caused stress that made them lose sleep and suffer from anxiety which required a propranolol prescription from their GP.

Glasgow Times:

The nurse said: "I've got quite a chaotic caseload. A lot of these people are ranked as red which means they are high priority and have a lot of complex needs."

The status of a patient can change overnight but the yo-yoing causes more stress.

They added: "I worry at night, I worry about it all the time.

"I'm just like, what am I going to do tomorrow? What has happened to these people?

"I've not managed to phone this one because that one is in crisis. And I do understand that it's a pressurized job but it's so hard I've started taking anxiety attacks.

"When your caseload is so high and your name is against 50 people, you're left responsible for making sure these people don't overdose."

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They added: "I really wanted to work in addictions and I still do but I didn't realise how much of an impact it would have on my mental well-being, the pressure is just insane.

"I want to leave but I feel like these people need me."

They claim when they wanted to take annual leave they didn't know who to ask.

"I was just getting passed back and forward because no one had the answer or all the other team leaders were off.

"Eventually it did get seen to but it's stressful to get simple things done, there's so many hoops you've got to jump through."

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They added: "I feel like people don't want to take leave because they're so worried about what's happening when they're off."

The nurse claims when they returned from having four days off they were confronted with 59 important emails. One patient was missing, one was in prison and one was in crisis.

A senior addictions nurse reported having a similar experience at work.

They said: "The last few years we've been working under tremendous pressure - the workload has more than doubled and we have half the staff we used to have."

They said the overwhelming caseload meant there was not enough time to follow up with patients correctly or to follow the standard operating procedures for their area.

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The senior nurse added: "It's had a massive impact on my mental health, it's taking its toll and my social life is non-existent.

"I get home and I'm too tired to do anything, so it's having a massive impact on my family life, my social life.

"With the cost of living crisis I'm struggling to even get by and that's further affecting my mental health.

"We're working under so much pressure and doing such a good job. And we're not getting the reward for it."

The nurses, who are represented by Unison, have chosen to speak out amid fears that further budget cuts to the Greater Glasgow Health Board are looming.

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Margaret McCarthy, said: "I speak to members daily who are on the brink of leaving work and not coming back, with many unable to take their full annual leave allowance due to workload pressures."

The Unison NHSGGC Assistant Branch Secretary and HSCP Convenor added: "It’s a credit to NHS staff that they remain committed to their profession and patients when many are at breaking point themselves.

"I also regularly hear from staff that they are unable to provide the safe standard of service required.

"While NHS staff enter their professions knowing that there’s always a degree of risk, management now treats high risk as a normalised part of the job.

"Working at a routinely unsafe level of risk is bad for staff and bad for patients, causing high levels of workplace-related stress, poor mental health, and undermining patient care across all affected services."

A spokesperson for the HSCP said: “All staff within ADRS are encouraged and supported to use annual leave.

"All staff can access leave and nobody within our services has been refused leave.

"NHSGGC implement the Rostering Policy which supports staff to have adequate rest time from roles.

“If individual staff members have any issues with utilising their leave, they should discuss it with their line manager. 

"If staff require support with well-being, they can make use of several supports provided by parent organisations such as Occupational Health.”

NHSGGC has been allocated a total of £28 million to support alcohol and drug services and the HSCP has been allocated £6 million in addition to the board’s baseline funding.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “We’ve made £12 million available to support workforce wellbeing which is at the heart of our workforce development efforts.

"Our recently published Drug and Alcohol Workforce Action Plan set out key actions to address the challenges faced by alcohol and drug services staff."