Nurse Staffing Levels 'Inadequate In South'

Inadequate Nursing Levels Have Been Recorded At Hospitals In The South

04.09.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397
Nurse staffing levels in hospitals in the south of England are not meeting standards, an investigation has revealed.

BBC South has used the Freedom of Information Act to make this finding, asking healthcare trusts how many nurses were working during a single 48-hour period.

It also enquired about staffing levels relating to healthcare assistants, as guidelines published by the Royal College of Nursing state there should be a 65/35 per cent ratio between nurses and assistants on every shift. This split means a range of skills and expertise should be available to help with the care of patients, ensuring they receive the best possible treatment.

However, the BBC found 78 per cent of nursing shifts taking place on acute illness wards were not meeting these standards, compromising the wellbeing of patients.

Worrying staffing levels were recorded at Buckinghamshire and the Isle of Wight hospitals in particular, while Brighton was close to the top in terms of having the best ratio of nurses available during a shift.

Taking the number one spot with the best nursing levels in the south of England was the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

Executive director of nursing at St Mary's Hospital on the Isle of Wight Alan Sheward said the hospital was "forever striving to make [standards] better", explaining that significant progress has been made since the review was carried out.

At Poole Hospital, it was found that 38 per cent of shifts involved more healthcare assistants than nurses, meaning patients did not necessarily have access to the best care possible.

Responding to the revelation, the hospital released a statement, which said: "We offer safe, high-quality care that complies fully with guidelines on staffing levels from NICE, which provides a range of national healthcare guidance."

It is becoming increasingly important to ensure staffing levels are of an optimum, in light of recent 'scandals' and general life expectancies having risen in recent years.

Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that hospitals are adhering to the Royal College of Nursing guidelines to ensure patients are getting the best care possible.

Expert Opinion
The high profile staffing issues that have come to light in recent months and the consequences understaffing can have on the safety of patients means it is vital the correct number of skilled and experienced nursing staff are present on wards at all times. Patient safety should always be a top priority, which means having an adequate number of staff on hand that can provide the best care possible.

“All too often we have seen the damage that can be caused when departments are underresourced and understaffed, as patients do not receive the attention and treatment they require, with their conditions often getting worse as a result. It is vital these findings are dealt with appropriately and more nurses are made available where they are needed.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner