That sounds soo much like my hospital, its scary that its happening all over. The thing is that despite what they might try to portray to the public, the bottom line is money! And if they can do it with less staff they will. Don't be fooled into thinking that the hospital cares about the patients or the nurses!
After almost 20 years of being one of the charge nurses, I told my manager that I simply couldn't do it anymore. I mean, I never got any credit when we somehow managed to pull through on shifts that were woefully understaffed. But when anyone had a complaint, my manager was right on my tail! When I had four triage patients and all the labor staff was 1:1 with their pts., I asked two of them to cover each others deliveries (they were both experience RNS), they reported to the manager that I didn't help them..this was despite the fact that I had no break no meal and was baby nurse for 4 other deliveries that day in addition to my own assignment and being charge. Then another day, I was in tears myself after being harassed by a physician because her elective induction was still in triage. She wanted to know why I hadn't called her off if we didn't have a bed..despite the fact that I start at 6'30, and the pt had arrived at 6:45 so the night chg. would have had to do so...as well as anticipate that this person who was scheduled for ripening would be dilated enough to start pitocin, and that so many people would arrive in spontaneous labor, AND that we would have two admits from high risk that needed to be dellivered!! Every room was full, including three post partum rooms that we had converted for labor, moving those moms to our overflow unit. I had no more beds or staff, all of us were working as hard as possible, and I had staff (who wanted breaks and meals), doctors (who wanted their pitocin started yesterday) and patients (who didn't like having to stay in triage with its small room) all giving me grief and the supervisor wanting me to take med-surg overflow on my high risk floor.
At my place, when you are in charge , it is of triage, labor and delivery (including the OR and PACU areas), postpartum, newborn nursery, and highrisk ob floor. Its crazy..and for all that (sometimes 90 pts in a shift), you get paid 75 cents extra an hour...I decided that the stress was not worth it, and it was the best decision I ever made in nursing.
Unfortunately, now that I've blown out my back, I wish that I had changed jobs completely. I have 20+ years here though which means a lot of seniority, and now that my back is shot, i'm not sure i'd be marketable anyway. My advice to newer people is to change professions...seriously. Because being in constant pain is just not worth it. So if you have the chance ..change. If you really want to stay in nursing, move to an area thats not as stressful ( i always tell my husband that he will outlive me cuz this stress will surely cause some problems as I get older). Even since I hurt my back, he says that he can see how my face has changed, with lines at corner of my eyes, between my brows, and slight frown lines under my mouth. A year ago, I had none so I don't think its just age, pain ages you..I really can't emphasize enough, that it surely has not been worth it.