London nurses blow whistle on staffing shortages putting health of patients and staff ‘at risk’

NURSES being pushed to the limit are raising a red flag over patient safety, revealing a ‘dangerous’ shortage of registered nurses in London hospitals.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is calling for an urgent review as a severe lack of nursing staff means 70% of daytime shifts are exceeding the guidelines of health watchdog National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The union is demanding new nationwide legislation to guarantee safe and effective nurse staffing.

“This is another SOS from nursing staff who continue to be pushed to the limit,” said Bernell Bussue, regional director of RCN for London.

“The situation urgently requires the attention of ministers and we need assurances from health and care providers that services are safe for patients.”

One nurse, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “A lot of shifts can feel like you’re firefighting rather than delivering quality care.”

NICE guidelines state having more than eight patients for every nurse should act as a red flag.

One acute adult nurse said she worked in one hospital that had one registered nurse to 12 or 13 patients.

“This felt very unsafe especially when patients conditions became unstable,” she said.

“I submitted a number of incident forms, however there was no funding and therefore no extra nurses able to be recruited.”

A ward sister said she had worked on the same ward for three years and had never seen staffing so low.

A community nurse said: “I am constantly tired. I dread going to work. I use to be so passionate about my job, at the moment I hate my job and am searching for something else. I don’t want to break down.”

Cost-cutting measures have led to unregistered nurses outnumbering registered nurses on duty – the proportion of registered nurses on adult general wards fell from 62% in 2009 to 48% in 2017.

YouGov’s research, carried out in May this year, showed pressures usually associated with winter months had become ever-present.

Fears of a higher level of flu cases this winter means hospitals are anticipating being stretched even further.

Research by the University of Southampton states the chance of poor quality of care is 1.64 times greater if a nurse’s shift exceeds 12 hours. In England, 32% of day shifts and 36% of night shifts exceed 12 hours.

The Department of Health said they had more than 52,000 nurses in training.

A spokesperson said: “There are over 29,600 more professionally qualified clinical staff including over 11,300 more nurses on our wards since May 2010.

“We have also committed to funding an extra 10,000 places for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals by 2020.”

Related Articles