RCN demands more nurses to reduce risk to patients

NHS employers have been urged to ensure safer staffing levels in hospitals after a survey revealed that a shortage of nurses is putting patients at risk.

Four out of 10 nurses say staff shortages are compromising patient care at least once a week, according to the Royal College of Nurses.

The RCN, whose survey covered the views of 9,000 nurses, warned against cutting jobs as a response to possible reductions in funding.

More than half the nurses surveyed (55%) said they were too busy to provide the level of care they would like and almost two thirds (67%) believe their workload is too heavy, the BBC reported. And nurses say they are looking after more patients on the wards.

Dr Peter Carter, head of the RCN, said staff were concerned that they were delivering the basics but were unable to provide the full range of quality care they would wish.

He said: “Nurses and healthcare assistants feel up against it, worn down and exhausted by the pressure to make efficiencies and frustrated by being prevented from delivering the quality of care they want to be providing.”

Karen Charman, head of employment services at NHS Employers which represents trusts in England, said NHS organisations certainly needed to have a clear method of working out safe staffing levels so that patient care is not harmed.

The RCN also warned of an impending shortfall in the number of nurses.

The RCN’s Labour Market Review said about 200,000 nurses are expected to retire in the next 10 years, and there will be fewer newly qualified nurses and fewer nurses moving to the UK because of restrictions on migration.

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