Skip to main content

NHS and nursing staff under pressure as staff shortages impact on patient care and safety


There is growing concern that the NHS might be at a tipping point, with top down reorganisation and massive cuts to budgets. In a previous article  I argued why it is disingenuous for the government to claim that £20bn cut in the NHS budget could be made without affecting front line staff, doctors, nurses and vital technical support. The claim that 'streamlining' efficiency savings could be made without cuts in front line staff is wrong. The government knows this of course. But it doesn't stop them repeating the falsehood.

There is increasing evidence that cuts are affecting patient safety. According to rulings by the official safety watchdog, The Quality Care Commission, 17 hospital trusts have dangerously low numbers of nurses.

The Royal College of Nursing has identified 61,276 NHS posts which have either disappeared or are set to go as a result of cuts in spending and warn that the NHS is "sleep walking into a crisis." Nurses say that they "do not have enough staff to deliver good quality care. Demand for services is continuing to rise, however staffing levels are being slashed." But there are other worrying signs.

Last year, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), the governing body for over  670,000 registered nurses and midwives, reported that there has been an unprecedented  increase in the numbers of nurses referred for conduct and fitness to practise investigations. In 2011-2012 there were 4,407 referrals compared with just under 3,000 in 2009-2010. That is a whopping increase of 48%.  Something has changed and currently we can only speculate on what that change might be. But there is one big question, and that is whether this increase represents a change in the culture of referral or whether it reflects a change in the working conditions of nurses.

Also last year another report was published, the NHS staff survey for 2011 which revealed some equally startling figures. Whilst the majority (87%) of nursing staff feel satisfied with the quality of care they provide to patients, only 67% reported being able to do their job to a standard they are personally pleased with. Critically, only 30% said there are enough staff in their hospital for them to do their job properly. Essentially nursing staff are 'overworked' and are having to deal with greater stress caused by staff shortages. It is inevitable that this will impact on patient safety.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services. It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared. Utilitarian ethics considers the ba

Mr Duncan-Smith offers a disingenuous and divisive comparison

Some time ago, actually it was a long time ago when I was in my early teens, someone close to me bought a table. It was an early flat pack variety. It came with a top and four legs. He followed the instructions to the letter screwing the legs into the top. But when he had completed it the table wobbled. One leg he explained was shorter than the other three; so he sawed a bit from each of the other legs. The table wobbled. One leg, he explained, was longer than the other three. So, he sawed a bit off. The table wobbled. He went on cutting the legs, but the table continued to wobble. Cut, cut, cut! By this time he had convinced himself there was no alternative to it.  He ended up with a very low table indeed, supported by four very stumpy legs and a bit of cardboard placed under one of them to stop it wobbling on the uneven floor.  Mr Duncan-Smith argues that we need a 1% cap on benefits to be 'fair to average earners'. Average  earners have seen their incomes rise by less tha

His way or none? Why I can't vote for Jeremy

There is an assumption that all would be well with the Labour Party if people hadn't expressed their genuine concern with what they consider the inadequacies of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. If only, it is said, the Parliamentary Labour Party and his Shadow Cabinet had supported him, instead of undermining him, all would have been fine. If they had been quiet and towed the line, then the party would not have been in the mess it is in. So, should they have stayed silent, or speak of their concerns? There comes a point when the cost of staying silent outweighs the cost of speaking out. This is a judgment. Many call it a coup by the PLP. They paint a picture of a right-wing PLP out of touch with the membership.  This is the narrative of the Corbyn camp. But Jeremy Corbyn, over the decades he has been in politics, showed the way.  It was Jeremy Corbyn who opposed almost all Labour leaders and rarely held back from speaking out, or voting time and again against the party line. As