High levels of nurse stress is putting patients at risk
Near misses, medicine errors and unsafe incidents are rife says Care Quality Commission’s annual report as burnt out nurses are not being properly supported
High levels of burnout and stress among health and care staff are leading to an increased risk of errors and staff feeling less confident about reporting mistakes, the health watchdog has warned.
High levels of stress among health staff is negatively affecting care
The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) annual assessment of the state of health and adult social care in England found staff across all health and care sectors experienced stress, burnout and issues with poor leadership and negative workplace cultures.
‘Staff have told us how, without the appropriate support in place, stress and burnout is affecting the care being delivered. This includes, for example, staff making errors with medicines, people’s choices not being respected and people receiving worse care or less care than they need,’ the report states.
One respondent to the CQC’s feedback service said: ‘Nurses are harassed to hurry up and give medications fast. Staff are constantly told off, with some staff reduced to tears. A lot of staff have quietly resigned and left.’
Concerns ‘suppressed’ after multiple near misses and serious incidents
Some staff said they felt their concerns or complaints were being ignored or ‘actively suppressed’ by managers.
‘The acute medical unit (AMU)… has had multiple near misses and serious incidents happen over the last six months. Senior staff raise concerns and are requested to stop email trails. [In] April a patient died in the corridor… AMU was plus 24 in the corridor, resulting in multiple unsafe incidents. Concerns are consistently escalated,’ one respondent said.
The recent NHS staff survey showed one third of staff surveyed said they saw errors, near misses or incidents in the last month that could have hurt staff or people using services.
Across the board, the CQC found a worsening state of care, particularly across maternity, social care, mental health and acute settings. Access to care across the country has declined, with many people still not receiving safe, good quality care.
The RCN said it was the ‘damning consequence’ of ignoring nursing staff’s warnings about the services they work in.
Trust leaders extremely concerned about ‘relentless pressure on staff’
RCN director of nursing Nicola Ranger said: ‘At the heart of the issue is the crisis in the workforce. There aren’t enough nursing staff, meaning those in the system are spread too thin, unable to give the outstanding patient care they strive to deliver.
‘If the government values and invests in nursing, patients will get the care they need and deserve. Staff must be paid fairly and students incentivised to join the profession rather than be put off by the prospect of huge debt.’
NHS Providers director of policy and strategy Miriam Deakin said: ‘Trust leaders are extremely concerned by the relentless pressure on staff, which can, and does, lead to exhaustion and burnout – with many leaving their professions as a result.’
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