‘HOSPITAL doctors are blowing the whistle on sliding standards in patient care – wards are full and without the staff to cope,’ the leader of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said yesterday.
Responding to the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) report, NHS reality check: Delivering care under pressure, which is being launched today at the RCP’s annual conference in Manchester, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary, Janet Davies continued: ‘Nursing staff share their fear that things will get even worse in the next year.
‘The report is a sharp reminder for the government of what happens when you neglect the future NHS workforce. Whether it’s doctors or nurses, jobs are repeatedly advertised but never filled.
‘Ministers have failed to train enough people and changes to student funding are putting more people off a career in nursing.
‘Finance cannot trump patient safety – safe and effective staffing levels are a necessity, not a luxury. Hospitals are bursting at the seams and to cope we are forced to treat people in corridors.’
The RCP survey shows 74% of physicians are worried about the ability of their service to deliver safe patient care in the next 12 months.
The results show doctors overwhelmed by the rising need in hospitals running at such high occupancy levels that there is no longer slack in the system.
They shared their experiences of care over the past 12 months:
• 78% say demand for their service is rising
• Over half of physicians believe patient safety has deteriorated
• Over a third say the quality of care has lowered
• 84% have experienced staffing shortages in their team, and
• 82% believe the workforce is demoralised.
Doctors said they were ‘firefighting’, ‘papering over the cracks’ and ‘hanging on by their claws’. Other comments included, ‘I feel like I’m on the Titanic’, ‘55 escalation beds in operation today with no extra medical or nursing staff. Completely unsafe.’
RCP president Professor Jane Dacre said: ‘I am sure these figures will not come as a surprise to anyone in the room. The physicians I know, and I include myself, are optimistic, positive, can-do people who produce work round solutions to intransigent problems.
‘We worry that there are inherent safety risks in a hospital running at full or over capacity – from an increase in hospital-acquired infections to the impact of burnout from overworked staff.’