The A&E four hour target across England hit its worst ever level in February (2019), as did more than half the cancer targets. Figures released by NHS England in their monthly combined performance summary, represents high levels of stress and anxiety for large numbers of patients and staff. Last month over 15,000 patients with suspected cancer couldn’t be seen by a specialist within the two week target. Whilst some 300,000 had to wait more than four hours in A&E.
These figures also showed that over 500 patients had to wait more than 12 hours on trolleys for a hospital bed after going to A&E. 41% more than this time last year (2018). It’s very hard for nurses to reassure patients about delays and distressing to have to try to care for patients in these difficult circumstances.
The fundamental reason for this continuing crisis is the huge shortage of staff. And yet again the Government missed an opportunity to get to grips with the issue in the Chancellor’s Spring Statement earlier this week.
We urgently need significant funding to increase the supply of nurses in the NHS, including at least £1 billion for nurse higher education. The Government must now guarantee that funding will be secured through the Spending Review the Chancellor announced to ensure that we have enough nurses with the right skills to deliver safe and effective patient care.
Without safe staffing levels in place, nursing staff will continue to struggle to provide patients with the care they deserve but also continue to put nursing staff at risk. That’s why the RCN is launching a new and important campaign called Staffing for Safe and Effective Care.
For too long, staffing levels and patient services have been allowed to deteriorate. Not only do we need funding for more people but also clear accountability for tackling the huge shortfall of nursing staff. Now is the time for members to come together to make this happen.
Please do get involved in this vitally important campaign. We need your experience, skills and help to bring about a fundamental change that will empower you and your fellow members to deliver high-quality care.
Find out more about Staffing for Safe and Effective Care.