The Royal College of Nursing has described the Healthcare Commission’s investigation into emergency care at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust as ‘shocking’ and said that the poor standards of care at the Trust were a result of placing more importance in money saving measures than providing quality patient care.
RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, Dr Peter Carter said: ‘The RCN has said it time and time again; when trusts cut staff, fail to provide leadership and put money-saving measures in front of quality patient care, this is what happens. Nurses want to give their patients top quality care, but when you have so few staff that you’re relying on A&E receptionists to provide clinical care, there are clearly not enough nurses to provide good care’.
Carter commented: ‘It is becoming more and more obvious as report after report comes out, if you want high quality care, you need enough fully trained nurses to provide that care. There is also something very wrong when trusts are achieving foundation status by putting the health of their budgets over the care of their patients as detailed in the accounts of Trust board meetings’.
The Healthcare Commission report into Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, revealed that 150 nursing posts were cut to save £10m and receptionists were left to judge the seriousness of A&E patients.
Cost-cutting also meant there was a lack of basic equipment in the hospital’s A&E, including thermometers, cardiac monitors and hospital trolleys.
Karen Jennings, UNISON Head of Health, said: ‘What a tragedy for NHS staff and patients caught up in this shocking report.
‘It is clear that senior managers at the Trust were too tied up with targets and concentrated their efforts on getting Foundation status, instead of focusing their attention on patient care.
‘It seems unbelievable now that despite a history of clinical and staffing problems and failures at Mid-Staffordshire, the Trust was awarded Foundation status in February last year.’
The Chairman of the BMA’s Consultants’ Committee, Dr Jonathan Fielden, said: ‘Targets need to be flexible and must not interfere with clinical priorities.
‘We must also ensure there are enough consultants and other staff in place so patients get the first class, expert care they deserve.’
The fact of the matter is that the Labour government is responsible for the 400 ‘unnecessary deaths’ disaster in Staffordshire. It has been pushing hospitals to make huge financial cuts so that they could become foundation trust businesses.
It is the government that is savagely cutting the NHS, has brought the PFI privateers in to take over ownership of major hospitals, and is handing more and more of the NHS budget over to the private sector.
At the same time, nationally tens of thousands of nursing posts have been axed so that trusts could become foundation businesses.
There is now a huge shortage of maternity nurses, doctors and consultants to the point where the introduction of the 48 hour week and the working time directive will bring responsible health care to a halt, and a lot more unnecessary deaths.
Labour is continuing to proceed with its programme to close dozens of district general hospitals, and replace them with privately run polyclinics and non-existent care in the community. Labour is fattening the bankers and axing the NHS.
All trade unions have a duty to defend the NHS. They must halt the privatisation drive, end the PFI scandal and stop hospital closures.
Privatising the NHS is killing thousands of patients. The Brown government must be brought down and a workers government brought in to defend and develop the NHS, not smash it, and to recruit and train the thousands of staff that are needed.