Nurses not getting life-saving training in key areas because of staff shortages

Nurses are not getting life-saving training in key areas because of staff shortages, according to a survey from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The UK-wide survey, which polled 3,000 members, found that almost one-third of nursing staff have been unable to access mandatory training in areas such as infection control, child protection and basic life support.

According to the survey, just over half (55.8%) felt they were up-to-date with their training. It also showed that 34.2% of respondents use annual leave to attend courses, while 38.8% funded their training themselves. The frequent reason given by respondents who has missed out on mandatory training was staff shortages and a lack of cover.

The survey also shows that low staffing levels mean that even where training is approved, staff are often forced to cancel at short notice to cover on the wards. Of those who have undertaken training during the past year, 65.8% reported that cover was not provided for their absence.

The RCN’s executive director of nursing and service delivery, Janet Davies, said it is a “testament to the dedication of these nurses that they are prepared to give their own time to learn and update their practice, but many are simply unable to do this and staff should not be expected to. Nurses are carrying out more and more tasks, but we can see they are starting to be hit by a double whammy – staff shortages and a lack of training.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said NHS organisations were taking their responsibilities for staff training and personal development seriously.

Its 2009 NHS staff survey showed that “four out of five staff have received job relevant training, that there has been a 5% increase in the number of staff receiving appraisals and a 5% increase in infection control training,” the spokesperson said.

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