Another Mid Staffs style tragedy is looming due to budget cuts and a failure to address the findings of the Francis Inquiry, nurses have warned in an online survey of more than 700 Nursing Times readers.
Nurses said wards were at “breaking point” and potentially subjecting older patients to degradations like those highlighted in last February’s Francis Inquiry report into events at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust – an issue also revisited last week by the health service ombudsman.
Although NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson ordered trusts to review their own processes in light of the inquiry, many nurses complained in the survey that these had made little impact.
For example, less than one in five said the views of frontline staff were fed up to trust boards, despite this being a key recommendation of the inquiry.
The vast majority – 64% – said nurses’ concerns and ideas were rarely acted upon, with only 15% saying this often happened, 1% saying it always did and 7% saying it never did.
Only a fifth of respondents said nurses were always asked for their views and feedback during investigations into complaints by patients, while 39% said they were sometimes asked, 19% said rarely and 9% said never.
The inquiry criticised “serious deficiencies” in the complaints and incident-reporting process at Mid Staffordshire and recommended staff were involved at every level.
But less than half of survey respondents said lessons from investigations into patient complaints, along with any action plans, were routinely fed back to nurses in relevant services – with only a third saying they were.
One respondent said: “I don’t think the impact [of the Francis Inquiry] has had far reaching results…we still see many elderly people sent home with more problems than when they went in, especially pressure sores and incontinence.”
One said their ward was at “breaking point”, forcing nurses to tell elderly patients: “‘I don’t have time to take you to the toilet, you’ll have to do it in the bed.’”
Unison head of nursing Gail Adams said: “We’re a year on from the Francis Inquiry and services are in a worse position than they were back then.
“There’s a real risk Mid Staffordshire will happen again in another organisation.”
A public inquiry is also currently underway into the Mid Staffordshire failings and is due to report this summer.
More than 500 incident reports made by trust staff about care failings and staff shortages are currently missing (news, page 2, 8 February).