Public support remains strong for nurses, a survey has found, despite a succession of national media stories about poor care and scandals like Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.
The general public is also aware of the pressures that nursing staff are under, suggests a survey of 2,000 people carried out for ITV’s new breakfast show Good Morning Britain.
Members of the public who think nurses “should be paid more money than bankers for what they do”
Half said they did not think there were enough nurses on the ward when they last visited a hospital.
Only 25% there were enough, while a further 25% said they were unsure. A further 46% said that, when visiting friends or family in hospital, they did not feel nurses were able to patients enough attention.
Of particular concern was that 54% of survey respondents said they had carried out some nursing duties on a friend or relative in hospital – such as feeding, plumping pillows and helping them out of bed – because the nurses were not able to do so.
“What’s preventing them from doing a really great job is not having enough nurses”
Regarding care outside normal working hours, 53% said they worried about being admitted to hospital due to lack of nurses on weekend and bank holidays.
Despite their observations of ward pressures, 44% of respondents said that, if they had children, they would encourage them to go into nursing as a career. This compared to just 27% of nurses, when Nursing Times asked them the same question in last week’s survey.
In addition, nearly three-quarters of respondents, 72%, though that nurses “should be paid more money than bankers for what they do”.
The results of the survey, which was carried out for ITV by OnePoll, were broadcast last Wednesday as part of a special edition on nursing shortages.
The programme included an interview with Nadine Weeks, from Norfolk, who described how she had helped provide care to her mother while she was in hospital due to staffing shortages.
“Basic things like her teeth weren’t being cleaned…When we raised our concerns, we were told that if we wanted to we could look after her we could come in at 7am and go home at 10pm, and do it ourselves,” she said.
The programme also featured results from a Nursing Times survey of 1,800 nurses, as reported in last week’s issue.
Nursing Times editor Jenni Middleton told the programme that “the vast majority of nurses do a fantastic job”. “They go into this profession to do a really great job, but what’s preventing them from doing that is not having enough nurses,” she said.
“They don’t not care, they don’t not have compassion, they just don’t have enough time and enough of them,” she said.
The programme also included an interview with an anonymous nurse, who warned that working in the NHS felt like being on a “conveyor belt”, which affected the ability of nursing staff to do their job properly (see below for transcript of full interview).
ITV interview with anonymous nurse
“When I first started my training, there was time to spend with the patients on the ward. Today it feels more like a conveyor belt in the NHS because of the relentlessness of the work affects your ability to prioritise.”
Question – Have you ever put a patient’s life at risk due to time constraints?
“Yes, there have been many occasions where that has happened. A good example would be monitoring the vital signs of a head injury patient. You end up doing a couple of their observations, when you should be doing all of them.
“There isn’t enough staff on the wards to deliver safe, compassionate care to the patients correctly.”
Question – What’s the worst nurse to patient ratio you’ve come across?
“I’ve been on duty when there’s been one nurse to 14 patients – elderly patients, who were totally dependent on you for their care needs.”
Question – How does that make you feel as a nurse trying to do a proper job?
“I can’t do a proper job – that’s not nursing.”
Question – You’ve devoted your entire life to nursing, would you do it again?