Nurse directors struggle to balance cuts with ensuring quality of care

Exclusive - Nurses warn that further NHS efficiency savings will have a major impact on care quality


Nurses have warned that any further pressure to make NHS efficiency savings or cut staff will have a major impact on care quality. 

In one of the first studies on the resilience of senior nurses since the 2013 Francis report on Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, researchers found that nurse directors feel a conflict between their responsibility for quality of care and the demands of balancing the budget. 

Participants from health boards across England and Wales reported exploiting all possible efficiency savings to protect staffing levels, including giving nursing duties to other staff who could safely carry them out. 

But they envisaged ‘major problems looming as the financial squeeze tightened’, a report on the research by Cardiff University’s school of healthcare sciences revealed. 

‘Having “picked all the low-hanging fruit”, nurse directors were of the opinion that any future cuts in staffing were unlikely to be achieved without affecting quality,’ the report said. 

One of the 40 nurse directors who took part in the research between February and July last year said trying to ensure quality care and maintain nurse staffing levels while being asked at board level to save £10 million in a year was ‘seemingly impossible’. 

Lead researcher Daniel Kelly said the findings revealed nurse directors were in a precarious position, balancing quality with making financial savings at board level. 

A Department of Health spokesperson said it takes nurse recruitment seriously and it is aiming to make more than 23,000 extra nurses available in the next four years. 

Read the full story in this week's Nursing Standard magazine.


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