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‘Corridor nursing’: the new normal for emergency nurses

Emergency departments resort increasingly to providing care in non-designated areas – survey
patient seen from behind, lying on a trolley in a hospital corridor

Emergency departments resort increasingly to providing care in non-designated areas survey

Nine out of 10 emergency nurses say the term 'corridor nursing' is being used in their organisation, a survey suggests.

An RCN survey of almost 1,200 nurses working in emergency departments in England looked at how common it is for nurses to be providing patient care in hospital corridors and non-clinical areas.

It follows a Nursing Standard survey in which nurses told how corridor nursing is becoming the norm as NHS hospitals struggle to cope with rising patient demand.

Nurses in emergency departments are being put under intolerable pressure to keep patients safe

Mike Adams, director, RCN England

RCN emergency care

Emergency departments resort increasingly to providing care in non-designated areas – survey


Picture: Charles Milligan

Nine out of 10 emergency nurses say the term 'corridor nursing' is being used in their organisation, a survey suggests.

An RCN survey of almost 1,200 nurses working in emergency departments in England looked at how common it is for nurses to be providing patient care in hospital corridors and non-clinical areas.

It follows a Nursing Standard survey in which nurses told how corridor nursing is becoming the norm as NHS hospitals struggle to cope with rising patient demand.

‘Nurses in emergency departments are being put under intolerable pressure to keep patients safe’

Mike Adams, director, RCN England

RCN emergency care survey results

Key findings of the RCN survey of members of its Emergency Care Association in England include:

  • 73% of respondents said they provide care to patients in a non-designated area such as a corridor on a daily basis
  • 90% said the frequency of providing care in non-designated areas has increased since last winter
  • 49% cent of respondents said the term ‘corridor nursing’ is formally used in their workplace, while an additional 40% say it is used informally

Complex factors that make nursing in a corridor problematic

Nurses replying to the RCN survey highlighted the problems of giving care in corridors, including the difficulty of administering urgent intravenous antibiotics, patients' lack of access to toilets, lack of privacy and dignity, and increased distress for patients, particularly those with mental health problems.

RCN director for England Mike Adams said: 'The reasons for the increased pressure on A&E departments are many and well-known – too few staff, not enough beds to admit patients to, and a lack of social care affecting hospitals’ ability to discharge patients quickly enough.  

'But as a result, nurses in emergency departments are being put under intolerable pressure to keep patients safe.'

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said the survey findings echoed concerns the NMC heard from nurses during its strategy consultation, that they are often working under intense pressure and worry about their ability to provide safe care.   

She added: 'The NMC Code encourages nurses at all levels to raise concerns they may have about patient safety. 

'It’s really important that these concerns are heard and responded to at a local and national level for the benefit of the public and in support of nurses who are committed to providing the best and safest care possible whatever the circumstances.'


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