NHS under "colossal strain"

  • The strain put on the NHS is affecting service as patients are sleeping in corridors, and leaving hospitals with inadequate staff numbers.

    Head of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) says NHS is under colossal strain and he has never received so many complaints about the pressure staff are under.

    The strain being put on the NHS is affecting front line staff and patients the hardest as 16% of hospitals have inadequate numbers of staff.

    Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the RCN, has said that nurses are being put under unacceptable pressure as numbers are cut.

    He says the government need to see that cutting the level of staff will affect the quality of NHS service.

    Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), told the RCN's annual conference in Liverpool that he has never received so many complaints, and patients are being forced to sleep in the corridors.

    Patients and their families react badly when it happens, said Carter, who is also the 415,000-strong union's general secretary, citing the practice as evidence of nurses facing "unrelenting pressures" and being put in "an unacceptable situation".

    In his speech to several thousand RCN delegates, Carter renewed his attack on what he said were dangerously substandard staffing levels in too many hospitals, which were putting patients at risk.

    The government can't keep kidding itself. It can't keep labouring under the illusions that numbers don't matter - the facts prove they do.

    He cited the recent disclosure by the Care Quality Commission, the NHS watchdog in England, that 16% of hospitals it regulates have what it considers to be inadequate numbers of staff.

    The RCN wants the NHS to introduce legally enforceable minimum levels of staffing, and Carter criticised the health minister Dan Poulter's view that such a requirement would lead to a "race to the bottom" on staffing in the NHS.

    Carter also criticised the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, over other government plans in its recent response to the recommendations made by Robert Francis QC in his report in February into the Mid Staffordshire hospital trust care scandal.

    For Hunt's plan for would-be nurses to spend a year before they start studying for their nursing degree working as healthcare assistants (HCA, the RCN had failed to find out so far where the money to pay for it would come from, who would pay the 210,000 aspirant nurses as they worked as HCAs and who would decide which of them were allowed to start training. The policy, which received widespread coverage, would eventually be dropped, Carter predicted.

    He also took Hunt to task for refusing to endorse Francis's recommendation that healthcare assistants should be regulated and said hospitals needed to employ more ward clerks and administrative assistants to lessen the load on nurses of having to fill in forms continually so they could spend more time caring for patients.

    Read the full article at The Guardian.


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