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Nurses asked to petition government on staffing levels and HCA standards

Nurses are being called on to sign petitions calling for minimum nurse staffing levels and mandatory basic training and registration for all care staff.

One petition was set up by Niamh McGarry-Gribbin, who helped blow the whistle on poor care of dementia patients in the nursing home in which she worked.

She was a witness in a case involving the neglect of a patient in the Dalton Unit at Stonedale Lodge, a nursing home in Liverpool. It resulted in the care home’s manager, Karen Southern, being convicted of the willful neglect of a person who lacked capacity.

Ms McGarry-Gribbin, a nurse for more than 25 years, also appeared in an ITV documentary highlighting the case, which was screened last October.

She is calling for the improvement of care given to older patients, particularly those with dementia. She wants legislation introduced on minimum standards and training of care staff, including the development of a national register.

However, the petition has only attracted 570 signatures so far and is set to close on 30 April.

A second petition for minimum staff nursing levels was started by Rachel Watson and will close on 5 December 2013.

She is lobbying for a “safer staff nurse-to-patient ratio in order to give [the] dignified, compassionate care that we strive to give”.

The petition, which has so far attracted 2,824 signatures, calls for a staffing level of “one staff nurse to no more than seven patients per shift in an acute general ward setting”.

The Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry report, published on 6 February, recommended the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence develop “evidence-based tools” for establishing minimum staffing numbers and skill mix needs for each service in the NHS.

Meanwhile, 57% of respondents to a Nursing Times survey earlier this month described their ward or unit as sometimes or always “dangerously understaffed”.

Both e-petitions are located on the government’s website. If they receive 100,000 signatures in a year they will be considered for debate by the Commons’ backbench business committee.

If they receive more than 10,000 signatures, the Department of Health must provide a statement in response.

Readers' comments (8)

  • tinkerbell

    signed.

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  • i will sign both but I don't want it to be a paper exercise. if I am signing for a minimum staffing ratio of 1-7 that is what I expect, I don't want to see a ward of 28 patients having 4 staff nurses on duty but with one sitting in the office doing paperwork (ie band 6 or 7) and one spending the day 'floating' or discharge planning. I want to have an assurance that there will be 1 nurse looking after no more than 7 patients.

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  • when we have the 'right' amount of staff on duty someone is usually moved to another ward and the sister takes the opportunity to just let us get on with it while she tidies up the store cupboard or something equally important.

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  • Its a step in the right direction. Staffing levels of 1:7 is still a lot to cope with if your patient's acuity level is high, likely in acute general wards and much more so in acute admission wards.
    This should a minimum of direct care nurses not a ceiling, and not including shift-leaders, coordinators and managers in the department. Also when there's admissions, transfers or discharges, that's at least one nurse out of the ward's numbers for however long it takes to complete that process.
    I've heard on at least 2 separate occasions/trusts where an adequately staffed ward had nurses pulled away by a site manager to other areas. Incident forms were filled in by each remaining nurse for each staff removed, as their patient numbers and levels of risk increased, as well as the shift leaders (sounded like they were used to completing these incident forms very quickly, so little time was wasted being away from their patients). Each incident generated at least 6 forms each time.
    There were quite a few unhappy campers, but the message was taken onboard and the ward managed to keep all their staff and patients safe. Another ward probably bore the brunt of staff pulled, being a 'softer' target. But it should not be like this in the first place.
    However get everyone you know to sign these petitions, not just nurses; its a step to ensuring better care. The details can be sorted out later.

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  • tinkerbell

    andy | 21-Feb-2013 6:52 pm

    I agree the details can be sorted out later but let's make a start at least.

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  • tinkerbell | 21-Feb-2013 7:11 pm

    Definitely. Have signed already.

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  • The definitions of who actually counts in the staff to patient ratio needs to be water tight to stop. Managers paying lipservice to them. They also need to mandatory not a reccomendation as the Prime Minister was talking about. And nurses on the ground need to have legal rights to reduce bed numbers if staffing falls below the mandatory limit with managers having no authority to over ride them.

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  • Staffing levels1:7 is still too much especially on an acute general ward were you have elderly patients. I would like to sign the petition, but I think that Ms Gribbins needs to review the petition and amend it by changing the staffing levels to 1:3 if they want the nurses and HCAs to deliver direct care to the patients on an acute general ward.

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