Nurses are being urged to ring a whistleblowing hotline if they feel that NHS targets are being put before the care of patients, it has been revealed.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said it was concerned that manipulating or giving priority to statistics was impacting on care. The group has particular concerns over the four-hour emergency care target.
The "Raising Concerns, Raising Standards" hotline is designed to identify when nurses are being placed under pressure to meet targets. The RCN said it is concerned the problem could be common in the NHS and that nurses are pressured into manipulating data and falsifying information for targets.
"We believe that targets have been instrumental in improving patient care and driving down waiting times. We know that patients place a premium on being seen in a short period of time and clinical staff can work to targets while also delivering quality care," said RCN chief executive Dr Peter Carter.
"It is, however, completely unacceptable when meeting a target comes before the delivery of patient care, or when hitting a statistic takes priority over clinical need."
"Worse in general practice, if one highlights the concern, that person get punished or warns. QOF codes are fast play. It is like Zig Zaw pullse, to play with read code one do not need patient. After new contract some only work as code manupulaters for points. Easy money for targets, it has to be stopped. No one cares about patient satisfaction as easy word is GP is an independent contractor" - Name and address supplied
"After 38 years of nursing and trying to do 6 jobs at once, have no breaks either coffee or lunch so that my patients are cared for, also daring to speak out and was told I ought to see a doctor, I was disciplined but I spoke the truth. It is wrong to have targets a hospital is not a supermarket with tins of baked beans. We are dealing with human beings and they need proper care. I was appalled to drips going up instead of giving the patients a drink. I have seen more pressure sores than i saw in the 1960s. I think Florence Nightingale would be appalled. It is a pity the Matron was phased out. Patients are vulnerable and Nurses have a lot of power and it is how it is used" - PA Beeden, Lincoln