“Heart-breaking” levels of nurses “very, very stressful”
A recent NT survey makes for a poor reflection on staffing levels but the NHS Confederation say that more nurses aren't the answer.
9th May 2013
A recent Nursing Times survey of 600 readers has found that opinions surrounding nursing levels to be – frankly - depressing. Staffing levels are thought to be poor and imbalanced by those that actually work on the wards doing the job: the nurses.
Over half of those surveyed feel their ward or unit is ‘dangerously understaffed’ with nearly another half claiming their general medical ward staff numbers consisted of at least half HCAS, if not more. 85% saw nurses expected to care for at least 8 patients on general wards and 44% were expected to take care of 10 or more. A further 76% had witnessed poor care within the last 12 months – understandable, we all have days where we make mistakes. But, more worryingly, almost a third said they saw it happen regularly.
On Sunday, Jenni Middleton of the Nursing Times spoke to Radio Five Live on the subject to remind us that no-one in the industry is complacent about this issue: "If you've gone into that job to care and to look after people and to not be able to do that is heartbreaking and very, very stressful because you feel you're incapable of doing what you've been trained to do because you don't have the resources to back you up,"
The head of the NHS Confederation, Mike Farrar, argues that the problems lie elsewhere than the actual staffing levels. In his opinion, more appropriate staffing patterns, recruitment “based more on staff values” (what does that mean?!), better training for ward leaders and more caring organisations are the key criteria. He also argued that senior clinicians and managers needed to be ”empowered” to take greater responsibility for high standards of care, again citing staffing patterns as a central theme to be tackled.
Essentially, Mike Farrar is saying that we have enough nurses, but that they aren’t timetabled as well as they could be: does that match up with your experience?