RCN responds to YouGov survey for Dispatches
Published: 24 March 2009
The Royal College of Nursing describes the staff shortages described in the YouGov survey conducted for the Dispatches documentary broadcast last night (Monday 23 March 2009) as "alarming".
The survey conducted by the polling company found that 70 per cent of the nurses surveyed said that their wards were so short staffed they were prevented from doing their jobs properly.
The RCN believes it is "completely unacceptable" that many nurses work the equivalent of an extra shift of unpaid overtime every week and that staff shortages put patients at risk.
RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, Dr Peter Carter, says:
"The constant struggle to fit more hours into the day is no way to deliver the care that patients expect and deserve, and trust managers need to recognise this. We have seen repeated examples where trusts cut staff and fail to provide leadership, and patient care suffers. It's simple - high quality care requires enough nurses to deliver it.
These extra unpaid hours which put patients at risk are also unnecessary. We know that well managed trusts can and do ensure that this can't happen, and those trusts provide patients with better care and a safer hospital environment. The fact that over half of the nurses who took part in this survey said that they were exhausted most of the time just makes a bad situation worse. Staffing levels have a direct impact on patient mortality and must be addressed before we see any more situations like the terrible events at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust".
The RCN reminds nurses they have a duty to report barriers to quality of care to their line manager and encourages RCN members to contact the RCN for support if they feel they are unable to do this.
Dr Carter warns that nurses with concerns for their patients should not be bullied and harassed out of expressing that concern. He adds:
"Trusts should also ensure that nurses can raise concerns properly, and should encourage a culture where all employees can play a part in improving the quality of patient care".
Dr Carter was interviewed specifically for the programme which can be viewed on the Channel 4 Dispatches website.
Read detailed research on the links between staffing levels and mortality and patient outcomes inThe future nurse:
evidence of the impact of registered nurses (Word 1.40MB).
Read the RCN Employment Survey, 'Holding On' (PDF 1.07MB) [how to access PDF files]. This examines workforce issues across the nursing sector.