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Safe staffing: ‘Simply not enough staff to provide the services needed’

14 Jun 2022

Challenges in emergency and mental health care highlight the need for more nursing staff.

Members with RCN banners at RCN Congress 2022 The RCN says a new report from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) shows emergency services are in deep crisis as we continue to call for safe and effective care to be enshrined in law in each UK country

Now a new RCEM report has found that in the first four months of 2022 there were 79,610 patients waiting for at least 12 hours after a decision to admit was made. This is nearly as many as the cumulative total of the 11 years since data collection began.  

While the pandemic has contributed to the current situation, long waiting times have been rising for more than a decade. 

RCN Head of Nursing Practice Wendy Preston said: “There simply aren’t enough staff to provide the services needed and patient safety has never been at a greater risk, not to mention poor patient experience. 

“Urgent investment in the nursing workforce is needed, as well as fair pay to help retain those staff. With this year’s NHS pay award imminent, ministers need to grasp the nettle and pay nursing its worth.” 

Similar issues have also been raised this week in a Royal College of Psychiatrists’ report on inappropriate out-of-area placements for adult acute patients. This showed that many very ill patients are now having to travel even further away from home to get treatment.  

Gaps in the nursing workforce must be addressed to ensure people with mental illnesses receive the care they need. Without more properly staffed psychiatric beds it will be many more years before the government achieves its general election manifesto pledge. 

RCN professional lead for mental health Stephen Jones expressed concern about the impact on patients: “At a time when their mental health is in disarray, finding themselves in an unfamiliar setting many miles from friends and family only adds to their distress and can slow their recovery.” 

Last week, we released a report showing that 83% of nursing staff who responded to our survey said there weren’t enough nursing staff to meet patient needs safely and effectively on their last shift.
 

Page last updated - 14/06/2022