Nurses feel undervalued and overworked. That’s not going to surprise any of you. You are living that reality every day when you go to work.
But on page 2 we have the evidence to support what you’ve been feeling and saying to us. We have conducted an exclusive survey with ITV’s new breakfast television show Good Morning Britain that shows 82% of the nearly 2,000 nurses we’ve spoken to feel they don’t have enough time to give adequate care. Just over a quarter said they feel they put lives at risk because they are too busy and overworked to provide care the way they want to.
I am delighted that ITV is covering this important story and recognising that what’s desperately needed to make the healthcare system safe is more nurses. The more awareness programmes like this can raise, and the more pressure national media can put on the government to do something about this, the better. Because they certainly aren’t listening to nurses or The Royal College of Nursing or the other unions when they make the same point.
Last week we celebrated the Student Nursing Times Awards and it was an amazing atmosphere. What was incredible was to hear from nurses starting out on their journey, enthusiastic about providing the best care they could. And adamant they could do it.
What the health secretary has got at the moment is a service that is stretched so thin that it will break. In fact, it has broken numerous times already
As I have said before, compassion and the will to do a fantastic job isn’t missing in the profession - those awards prove that.
Liz Redfern, former deputy chief nursing officer for England and Nursing Times Awards 2013 Lifetime Achievement Winner, made an important point at the Student Nursing Times Awards. She said that “quality is what you do when no one else is looking”. That is so true - but this survey sends a powerful message that there is a lack of resource to provide that quality. And we keep hearing this message again and again. It came out in the Unison annual staff survey Running On Empty, published last month, and has emerged in every survey we’ve run on staffing levels, including our most recent, which was published in February on the anniversary of the publication of the Francis Report into care failings at Mid Staffs.
If the health secretary really wants to create a more compassionate, patient-centred NHS then he needs to employ more nurses. Because what he’s got at the moment is a service that is stretched so thin that it will break. In fact, it has broken numerous times already as many scandals prove.
When will the government realise that what the health service does not need are slogans, catchy phrases and platitudes about safety - it needs enough staff to lookafter patients.
Jenni Middleon, editor
jenni.middleton@emap. Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed.com