This site is intended for health professionals only

Poor standards caused by staff shortages: nurses

At the Nursing in Practice conference in Belfast on Tuesday, when asked to cite the single most important reason for poor nursing practice, 60% of primary care nurses said low staffing levels were to blame.

The second and third most popular answers included nurse management (13%), inadequate training (12%) and low morale (11%). 

A recent report from the Health Service Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, published in February, outlined failings by the NHS to deliver the best possible care for older people. 

The report, Care and compassion?, used 10 separate incidents in which older people under the care of the NHS were treated poorly, and aims to serve as a reminder that more training is needed to ensure dignity for those over the age of 65 who find themselves in hospitals or residential homes.

In response, the Royal College of Nursing called for a review of nurse training to examine why failings are occurring in the care of older people receiving treatment in an NHS setting.

A survey carried out last year by health union Unison showed that workers across the NHS are concerned about staff shortages, which are expected to worsen with widespread cuts in services and proposals for a pay freeze for frontline staff.

The Nursing in Practice Belfast event was held at The Waterfront and was attended by around 400 nurses working in primary care.

The programme covered everything from infection control to domestic violence, and the most popular sessions with delegates included accountability in nursing and an update on anaphylaxis in light of the recent guidance on allergy.

Andrea Spyropoulos, President of the RCN in an interview with NIP highlighted staffing levels as the key issue eroding pride in nursing.   

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"YES! The vast majority of nurses do not join the profession as a 'convenient job' but because they care. My poor mother had an awful time in hospital before she died, alone and on a busy ward where there was nowhere more private for her to spend her last hours. It was so traumatic for me and her other close family, there was no interaction, there was no senior nurse and only a new SHO with whom to converse. Her DNR was
discussed with a registrar on the telephone at 10 o'clock at night which was the earliest he could manage due to pressure of work, when I was emotionally exhausted at home. Despite this, I can put my hand on my heart and say nobody did anything wrong, and that doubling the amount of nurses on that ward would have improved things greatly. With 2 trained nurses and 2 auxiliaries on a 40 bedded ward, with many
needing the commode every 20 mins, how the hell are they going to sit holding hands or slowly feeding someone some mashed food when there are vital drugs and treatments to dispense??? And what about the relatives? Why can't they help? Are they incapable of feeding their own loved ones?
Stop bashing the nurses. It's a cop out" - Name and address supplied