Staff shortages are preventing nurses from taking breaks

Nursing Standard readers have responded to the Commons health committee report on the nursing workforce.
Commons committee

Nursing Standard readers have responded to the Commons health committee report on the nursing workforce

Commons committee
Commons’ health committee recommends that directors of nursing check nurses are taking breaks


Staff shortages mean nurses cannot follow MPs’ suggestions to take a break, Nursing Standard readers have said.

Readers were responding to a report published last week by the Commons’ health committee into the nursing workforce.

The influential cross-party group of MPs recommended the chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings should write ‘immediately’ to directors of nursing to check that breaks are being taken.

Ms Cummings should also ensure handovers are being completed safely without nurses routinely staying late, and that nurses have access to food and drink.

The calls are part of a wide-ranging series of solutions from MPs to improve nurse retention rates amid huge vacancy rates.

Social media

But Nursing Standard readers have suggested on social media that nurses often have no choice but to skip breaks.

Michelle Lee wrote on Facebook: ‘Nurses are nurses because they are caring, compassionate and kind.

‘So, when an emergency alarm goes off because a patient has gone into cardiac arrest or has vomited, or other bodily functions have taken over, we don’t say “sorry love, it’s home time”.’

Charlotte Stradling commented: ‘There will be shifts when we have to take 14 patients on our own, which is not safe.

‘And can I just say our ward sister is the worst at not taking breaks because she often looks after 14 patients on her own, and she puts her patients and staff first.’

Poor management

Nursing student Karley Jay insisted better organisation from senior managers would improve the situation – and mean fewer staff leave or suffer burnout.

She said skipped breaks or routinely staying late is a sign of poor management.

Professor Cummings said it is too early to respond to specific points in the report and one Nursing Standard reader was unhappy about her inaction.

Kathryn Anderson said: ‘Why did Jane Cummings have to be asked to write to directors of nursing. Why hasn’t she done this already?

‘Why hasn’t she been doing this every month for the past five years? Why is nobody questioning her role and what, if anything, she has done to help nurses during these horrendous years?’

On the issue of access to food and drink, Lara Lamb wrote the popular comment: ‘Access to food? On a night shift? That’s the best joke! If you don’t take anything with you, then you starve!’

Further information

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