Nurses are being told to take a “long hard look” at how they communicate after a national survey found many patients felt nurses spoke over them and gave conflicting advice.
The annual inpatients survey, carried out by the Care Quality Commission, found 22 per cent of patients said nurses talked in front of them as if they were not there, a figure that has not improved for four years.
Anglia Ruskin University principle lecturer in nursing Sarah Kraszewski said while nurses were busier than ever, there was “never any excuse for talking over patients.”
The figures revealed the need for nurses, even those with many years of experience, to reflect on how they communicate with patients, she said.
She told Nursing Times: “You can never assume that because someone’s grown-up they know how to communicate effectively. It’s good for us all to stand back and take a long hard look at ourselves.”
In the CQC survey, just over a fifth of patients said they could not find anyone on the hospital staff to talk to about their worries and fears. One in 10 said there were rarely or never enough nurses on duty to care for them.
Ms Kraszewski said nurses on busy wards could adopt body language that encouraged patients to discuss concerns.
She said: “We have a far more demanding clinical environment than we’ve ever had and sometimes it’s difficult to give people the attention they need.
“But it’s very important to make patients feel we have time for them by not checking our watch, fiddling with our pockets or looking around. That’s part of the professionalism of nursing.”
When patients were asked whether they found one member of staff would say one thing and another would say something quite different, 35 per cent agreed – up from 31 per cent in 2002.
But overall, 97 per cent of respondents said they had confidence and trust in the nurses treating them.
Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said there was “no room for complacency” and that the government must ensure hospitals and community services have the right number and balance of nursing staff.