Patient concerns about low staffing levels must not be ignored, warns RCN

RCN general secretary Peter Carter has said nurse staffing levels need to be urgently addressed after the Care Quality Commission's latest survey of hospital inpatients revealed poor staffing is negatively affecting patients' experiences of care

Staff shortages are negatively affecting patients’ experiences of care, RCN general secretary Peter Carter has said in response to findings of the latest national hospital inpatient survey.

The survey, published by the Care Quality Commission, looked at the experiences of more than 59,000 people who were admitted to one of 154 acute and specialist NHS trusts in England for at least one night during June, July and August 2014.

Of those who responded to the survey, 84% rated their overall experience as seven or higher out of ten, with about one in four people rating it ten out of ten.

Seventy-eight per cent said they ‘always’ had confidence and trust in the nursing staff that treated them. However, 42% said there were delays when leaving hospital, with the majority citing the main reason for the delay as waiting for medicines. Nearly a quarter of those who experienced delays waited for longer than four hours.

More than 40% of patients said there were ‘sometimes or rarely or never’ enough nurses on duty to care for them, whereas six out of ten respondents said there were ‘always or nearly always’ enough, compared with 59% in 2013.

Dr Carter said: ‘These results show that patients are feeling the impact of low staffing levels, and that is unacceptable.

‘Too often concerns about low staffing levels are ignored, but when 40% of patients say there are not enough nurses, immediate action is required. The key to good care is having the right numbers of nursing staff with the right training in the right places. This is still not happening.’

He called on the government and Health Education England to urgently explore the options for increasing nurse training places this year.

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