Workforce and Training

14.05.18

Nurses open up about ‘scandalous and cruel’ staff gaps pushing them into new careers

Staff shortages are affecting patient care and the mental and physical health of nurses themselves, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned.

A new report by the college, ‘Nursing on the brink’, analyses thousands of comments submitted by nurses and healthcare assistants as part of the RCN’s major staffing survey last year.

Six recurring themes were identified:

  • Lack of time for patient care
  • Lack of time to support patients and carers
  • Too much time spent on non-nursing duties
  • Inadequate skill mix of nursing staff
  • Concerns about mental and physical health of nursing staff
  • Concerns about staffing levels not being addressed

Over half of respondents reported a shortfall in planned staffing of one or more registered nurses on their last shift, with 44% claiming that no action was taken when they raised  concerns about staffing levels or compromised care.

Over half of respondents said that they felt sad that they could not provide the level of care that they wanted to and 53% reported that care had been compromised on their last shift.

One nurse said: “I am not sure if I want to stay in nursing. I feel the care I give is compromised by trying to complete specific tasks which are more concerned with audit and performance rather than care of the patient.

“The paperwork is onerous, repetitive and does not facilitate care planning.”

Another said that they have also considered leaving the profession: “I now find myself regularly feeling that I’ve not been able to provide safe - let alone quality - care to my patients. This is completely inappropriate and unacceptable, and to be put in a position where I feel as though I am harming patients due to a systemic lack of concern for safe staffing levels is pushing me towards seriously considering a new career.

“This must stop. This is scandalous, cruel to both patients and staff and quite frankly dangerous!”

These concerns are echoed by the public. A recent RCN poll revealed that three-quarters of people in the UK think that there are not enough nurses to safely care for patients in the NHS.

Furthermore, those surveyed in England thought that employing more nurse should be the government’s top priority for the NHS if extra funding for the service is found.

Speaking at RCN Congress yesterday, Janet Davies, chief executive of the RCN, said: “The reason we have so many vacancies is because of short-sighted cost-cutting in past years and ineffective workforce planning based on affordability rather than the real needs of our population.”

She added: “We warned this would happen, but were called scaremongers.”

Davies attributed the staffing situation to a failure of politicians and policymakers, who she said have “an inability to recognise the value of nursing, an unwillingness to listen to those who are working in the service, and a lack of political will to address it”.

She said that staffing levels are the main reason for nurses leaving the profession, creating a “vicious circle”.

A Department for Health spokesperson acknowledged the hard work of nurses, saying that the NHS would “collapse” without them.

“The fact that the NHS is ranked as the safest healthcare system in the world is a testament to them,” they added. “From this year we will train 25% more nurses, are committed to helping them work more flexibly to improve their work-life balance, and have awarded a pay rise of between 6.5% and 29% in a deal backed by the Royal College of Nursing themselves.” 

 

Enjoying NHE? Subscribe here to receive our weekly news updates or click here to receive a copy of the magazine!

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

AI a ‘weapon’ against avoidable cancer deaths

21/05/2018AI a ‘weapon’ against avoidable cancer deaths

Theresa May has called artificial intelligence (AI) a weapon in the fight against cancer. Speaking in Macclesfield yesterday, the prime minister... more >
Chief executive of York foundation trust to step down

21/05/2018Chief executive of York foundation trust to step down

The chief executive of York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Patrick Crowley, will retire from his position at the end of the month. ... more >
Community services still ‘overstretched and underfunded’, despite promises

21/05/2018Community services still ‘overstretched and underfunded’, despite promises

Promises to bring more patient care closer to home have fallen flat, according to a report by NHS Providers. Multiple national strategies have c... more >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

last word

Hard to be optimistic

Hard to be optimistic

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warns that we must be realistic about the very real effects of continued underfunding across the health service. It’s now bey... more > more last word articles >

the scalpel's daily blog

Data sharing to improve care: the GP potential

18/05/2018Data sharing to improve care: the GP potential

As sharing data across organisations becomes the norm in the NHS, will general practice embrace its potential to improve the care we deliver to patients? Rebecca Fisher, a GP and policy fellow at the Health Foundation, investigates. “I just assumed your computers talked to each other” is a phrase not infrequently heard in my g... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

The NHS is at a crossroads, on a precarious path to a future yet unknown

11/05/2018The NHS is at a crossroads, on a precarious path to a future yet unknown

Niall Dickson CBE, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, gives NHE readers an exclusive preview of what to expect at this year’s editio... more >
A different kind of medicine

02/05/2018A different kind of medicine

Could literature improve the quality of life of those with mental health conditions? According to Jane Davis, founder and director of The Reader,... more >
Is the NHS ready for another WannaCry?

02/05/2018Is the NHS ready for another WannaCry?

NHE’s Seamus McDonnell on the plans put in place to protect trusts and other NHS organisations from potential future cyber-attacks. In... more >
Janet Davies: Our future workforce

02/05/2018Janet Davies: Our future workforce

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), says ministers must accelerate progress to make nursin... more >

interviews

Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... more >
Cutting through the fake news

22/11/2017Cutting through the fake news

In an era of so-called ‘fake news’ growing alongside a renewed focus on reducing stigma around mental health, Paul Farmer, chief exec... more >
Tackling infection prevention locally

04/10/2017Tackling infection prevention locally

Dr Emma Burnett, a lecturer and researcher in infection prevention at the University of Dundee’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and a boar... more >
Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

02/10/2017Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

NHE interviews Gillian Fox, head of eProcurement (Scan4Safety) programme at NHS Supply Chain. How has the Scan4Safety initiative evolved sin... more >

health service focus

View all News