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Lessons not learnt from Mid Staffs, warn nurses

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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).

  • 3 Comments

Readers' comments (3)

  • There is a cold hard reality that we need to face here- THE CARE OF PEOPLE CANNOT BE GOVERNED BY ACCOUNTANTS. People are not tins of beans no matter how much you want that to be true. Each cut that these people make have a consequence on a person. Patients or nurses.
    Cutting back staff,making it impossible for staff to get rest breaks all contribute to this.
    The NHS is a sick dog that needs some vitamins or putting down

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  • It is time that operational managers turned towards frontline staff and freed up managerial time to support them instead of turning thier backs on front line staff in favour of pleaseing trust and finance directors so they can keep thier jobs. Management in the NHS is outdated and geared towards appeasing government ministers instead of meeting the needs of patients. Get out of the rut of going from one meeting to another and start following the journey of patients through your organisations then you will see where value for money is and where the real cuts need to be made

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  • I cannot see things changing unfortunately. I used to work on a surgical ward where the nursing officer would walk in, ask "Any empty beds?", then walk off again. She was never interested in patient dependency, or how staff were coping. When told about our difficulties she would shrug her shoulders and leave us to get on with it. We completed incident forms when short-staffed but nothing changed, and when a serious drug error happened the nurse involved was put through the wringer. Very little has changed.

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