THE ROYAL College of Nursing have warned of a ‘woeful lack’ of trained nurses as it emerges that untrained care assistants are ‘putting patients at risk’.
Healthcare assistants are working without proper training or supervision, being left alone on wards with up to 40 patients, with junior staff asked to take blood samples and insert IV drips, an investigation has revealed.
RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary Dr Peter Carter said: ‘Too many people are being failed by woeful staff shortfalls, inadequate training and huge local variations in care.’
Unite head of health, Sarah Cook stated: ‘If Health Care Assistants are inserting IV drips, that is completely inappropriate it puts the patients at risk and it also puts the Health Care Assistants at risk because if something goes wrong, they are responsible.
‘The NHS needs to be properly staffed with skilled staff. Staff should be doing duties appropriate to their training.
‘Cuts in the NHS are to blame and the fact that so many trusts are now in deficit. Staff shortages mean that staff are stretched very thinly and this will definitely impact on patients.
‘There needs to be more staff. We support the four to one ratio, which is four nurses to every patient.
‘There should be adequate staffing levels to deal with the patients living in the location of that particular hospital.’
Unison is currently conducting research about the impact on patients and staff when healthcare assistants do 12-hour shifts.
The investigation was carried out by the BBC of 32 care assistants from 19 hospitals across the East of England, West Midlands, East Midlands, London and South West.
The investigation found Health Care Assistants were often asked to ‘act up’ to perform roles designated for doctors and nurses.
Catherine Foot of the King’s Fund, said staff cuts in the NHS had created ‘an all hands on deck mentality’.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines say healthcare assistants are expected to work ‘under professional supervision’.
A comment from healthcare assistants interviewed said: ‘There’s not enough training, and no time to train even if we wanted to.
‘We had a patient who should have been lifted by six people being rolled only by me and one other staff member.’