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NHS deficit - the view from the frontline

18 Jun 2016

The Welsh perspective on the true impact of the NHS financial crisis, following a survey of 10,000 RCN members.

An RCN survey of more than 10,000 nursing staff from across the UK – with a significant number of nurses, students and health care support workers working in Wales, has found that only 10% believe that the health service is currently able to meet demand, while more than a third (34%) say it needs serious improvement. 

The twin pressures of a lack of investment and rising demand are being felt across all sectors. 

Eighty-four per cent of the nurses in Wales who were surveyed said they have felt the impact of a rising number of elderly patients, with 63% reporting an increasing struggle for hospital beds due to heightened demand.

Also, nurses expressed concerns about NHS funding. More than 80% of respondents said that NHS finances in Wales have worsened over the course of their career.  Continued budget cuts and lack of adequate resources has a detrimental effect on patient care. 

One nurse in Wales said: “The focus of the NHS needs to be more on the needs of direct patient care, this in my view means more emphasis on the staff at the bed side, increase numbers and a better understanding of skill mixes.”

Another commented: “Ageing population is a big problem. Hospitals need to be staffed adequately to care for patients with challenging needs so that dignified care can be provided. Also better community services are a must.”

RCN members will be debating these issues during Congress week and is again calling on the Government to invest in the nursing workforce in order to provide the specialist staff and resources needed to cope with the continually rising demand. 

Tina Donnelly, Director of the RCN in Wales said: 

“Sixty-seven per cent of nurses surveyed said that when they entered the profession the NHS met patient demands and exceeded expectations and now only 10% feel the same way, a very worrying decline."

"In addition, respondents in Wales said the health service has got worse in the areas of patient care, patient safety and organisation."

"We need better investment in health services, and the nursing workforce of particular note, however the Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Act 2016 will hopefully have a positive affect and address some of the concerns raised by our members in Wales."

"Thirty-five per cent of those surveyed identified staff shortages as the biggest problem facing the profession’s future: something which the RCN in Wales has consistently warned about.  When asked for one thing they would choose if they were in charge of the NHS for a day, 43% said they would focus on staffing."

"We need better investment in health services and our nursing workforce."

"If the Nurse Staffing Act is implemented successfully, this will go a long way in providing the right amount of nursing numbers and skill mix required to provide a high standard of patient care."

"The nursing family advocates for patients and can provide the solutions to health care issues for Government, and to achieve the best health care in Wales there needs to be the right numbers of nurses with the right skills to have more time to care. “