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Readers panel: How should the NHS respond to the increase in complaints about nurses? 

Written complaints about nurses increased last year, according to NHS Digital, with the profession receiving the second-highest number of complaints among NHS staff in England. Nursing Standard readers have their say.

Written complaints about nurses increased last year, according to NHS Digital, with the profession receiving the second-highest number of complaints among NHS staff in England. Nursing Standard readers have their say 


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Beverley Ramdeen is a senior nursing lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire 
@BeverleyRamdeen

Figures from NHS Digital show that 36,800 complaints were made about nursing in 2016-17, an increase of 9.8% on the previous year. Although complaints are a form of feedback, this is unacceptable and the NHS cannot bury its head in the sand. Complaints need to be categorised into themes, such as staffing problems or knowledge and skills – and be properly addressed. There are no quick fixes, but nurses need the right resources and strong leadership to meet their responsibilities under the Code. 

 

Drew Payne is a community staff nurse in north London 
@drew_london

As the profession that has the most contact with patients, nurses are often blamed when things go wrong. But before we can act on these complaints, we need to know why they were made – are they about poor clinical practice or related to poor staffing and heavy workloads? The NHS is in crisis, with 40,000 empty nursing posts reported by the RCN and other unions. This increase in complaints is another warning sign, but is there any political will to tackle it?

 

Debbie Ayodele is a mental health nurse in London 

ayodele

Although it is upsetting that patients increasingly feel nurses are unable to meet their care needs, if these statistics are a reflection of how the nursing workforce feels, I am not surprised. Nurses are facing more pressures than ever before, with the many unfilled posts adding to this pressure as nurses work without full teams or adequate support. Nursing is an incredibly demanding job. If we want nurses to look after others, it is crucial we look after ourselves. 

 

Liz Charalambous is a staff nurse and Phd student in Nottingham 
@lizcharalambou 

While working towards avoiding complaints, we should be actively looking at ways to improve services and care quality. This includes encouraging feedback, simplifying reporting systems for recording near misses, and meaningful staff engagement. To prevent complaints, every effort should be made to address the shortfall of registered nurses, and the whole of the NHS – from shop floor staff to executive management – should engage with the political process to put pressure on the government to prioritise healthcare services.


Readers panel members give their views in a personal capacity only 

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