It’s now common knowledge that there is a shortage of nurses in hospitals around the UK. This causes lots of problems, such as nurses having to double up their shifts, potentially working 12 plus hours on a low salary.
In many hospitals, nurses have to look after 9 to 10 patients for 10+ hours, each patient having a wide range of problems. Nurses clean patients’ bodies, cope with cardiac arrests, change beds, give medicine and support the doctors, and are doing that for many people for many hours. I’m sure this could cause physical, physiological and social side effects over time. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) urges ‘all hospitals to use new NICE safe staffing guidelines for registered nurse staffing levels, alongside nursing staff expertise, to ensure staffing levels are always based on patient need.’ But these are just guidelines, and it could mean some of these may be difficult to implement because of the most common answer: lack of staffing.
‘According to the most recent data, in November 2013, the NHS was still short of 1,199 full time equivalent (FTE) registered nurses compared with April 2010’ (BBC News, 11 March 2014, ‘Worrying shortage of senior NHS nurses’).
More nurses would make it easier to care for patients with any type of complications and provide more support for existing nurses. Dr Peter Carter, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary at University College hospital, stated that ‘nursing staff have long recognised the importance of safe staffing levels and consistently provided evidence of the danger to patients in areas where there are too few staff.’ In other words, there is knowledge within the field of the dangers of a lack of nursing staff. I think it would be potent for the “powers that be” to bring in more locally trained nurses along side experienced nurses both from UK and abroad (saying this, nurses here in the UK go through years and years of studying and training before they become valuable nurses in our hospital around the UK). The NHS are now trying to get more nurses by paying for the tuition fees of student nurses and midwives and also giving them a bursary, to try and attract more people to choose it as a job.