Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Little change in patient perception of hospital nurses


Patient perceptions of nurse staffing levels in hospitals have changed very little, despite a much-hyped increase in the overall size of the acute sector workforce, suggest national survey results.

Around one in 10 people who completed the 2014 inpatient survey thought there were “rarely or never” enough nurses on duty to care for them, the same as in 2013.

About 60% thought there were “always or nearly always” enough nurses on duty and 30% that there were “sometimes” enough nurses – with virtually no change between 2014 and 2013.

“The survey demonstrates the significant variation between the best and worst performing trusts”

Edward Baker

Official figures have demonstrated a fairly consistent rise in the number of whole-time equivalent nurses over the last few years, with the government claiming 6,900 more since 2010.

But both nursing leaders and NHS managers have warned that the increase – driven by the Francis report and a series of new rules on staffing – has so far been outstripped by spiralling demand for services.

The information on patient views on staffing levels comes from the 2014 national inpatient survey, the results of which are published today by the Care Quality Commission.

The results are based on replies from more than 59,000 patients who stayed in one of 154 acute and specialist trusts in England for at least one night during June, July or August 2014.

As in previous years, patients were asked four questions specifically on nursing, including the one on perceptions of staffing levels. The results were largely positive, though suggesting room for improvement.

When asked if they had confidence and trust in the nurses treating them, 78% said “always”, representing a slight increase from the year before. Meanwhile, 19% said they “sometimes” did and just 3% answered “no”.

When asked whether nurses talked in front of them “as if you weren’t there”, 81% said this did not happen, though 15% said it did “sometimes” and 4% that it happened “often”.

A small percentage, 4%, said they did not receive an answers they could understand when they asked a nurse “important questions”. In comparison, 69% said they “always” received answers they could understand and 27% said they “sometimes” did.

The regulator said that, overall, the survey results from last year had not changed significantly since the 2013 version of the survey.

In general, the regulator said they showed that most inpatients were positive about their care, though many still experienced delays when they left hospital.

Over three quarters (77%) said they were “always” well looked after during their hospital stay. But 42% said there were delays with being discharged from hospital with most citing the main reason for the delay as waiting for medicines.

In addition, 97% of people said the room or ward they were in was either “very” or “fairly” clean.

Of those who used the call bell, 18% said that they experienced waits of over five minutes before they got help and 1% never got the help requested.

Overall, the CQC’s hospital inpatients survey found that 84% of respondents rated their overall experience as seven or higher out of 10, with about one in four people rating it 10 out of 10.

Professor Edward Baker, deputy chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, said: “Despite the pressures facing the NHS, many patients are reporting positive experiences about their care.

“This is not the case in every hospital,” he said. “The survey demonstrates the significant variation between the best and worst performing trusts.”

Professor Baker “strongly urged” senior staff to review their results to see where improvements could be made.

The CQC has published the individual results for each of the 154 acute and specialist NHS trusts that took part.


Results for nursing questions in the national inpatient survey (source CQC):

When you had important questions to ask a nurse, did you get answers that you
could understand? (source: CQC)
Yes, always69%69%
Yes, sometimes27%27%
Did you have confidence and trust in the nurses treating you?20142013
Yes, always78%77%
Yes, sometimes19%20%
Did nurses talk in front of you as if you weren’t there?20142013
Yes, always4%4%
Yes, sometimes15%15%
In your opinion, were there enough nurses on duty to care for you in hospital?20142013
There were always or nearly always enough
There were sometimes enough nurses30%30%
There were rarely or never enough nurses11%11%





Readers' comments (10)

  • why don't they just employ saints as nurses are always seen as useless

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I think the questions on the survey sheets need reviewing.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • anon 22 May 4.00 am

    what questions do you think should be asked?

    are these the sort of questions patients will be asked for revalidation?

    as a general and perhaps hypothetical question anybody can help me answer:

    is this poll helpful? rather than this and similar polls is there not something more constructive the money could be spent on since this information has already been identified and well documented and boils down to the fact that in many areas patient requests are not being responded to and frequently this is related to a shortage of staff or organisation of their working day to respond to the needs of all of their patients, or too many other tasks (such as admin) competing for their attention.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • A question to ask nurses in balance maybe -

    Have the expectations of people staying in hospital and their relatives become higher over the last ten years?

    And of patients -

    What do you consider an urgent need of a nurse?
    What do you see as the role of a nurse, and is that being fulfilled?

    I think the answers to these questions may provide a balance to those in the so called surveys.

    Surely the one thing learned from the election just past........opinion polls are not necessarily a reflection of reality.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • There are always enough nurses but it is often the standards, behaviour & deployment that is under question

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • You also have to ask who answers the surveys... I'd expect that those who unfortunately have a negative experience are more likley to fill it out than those who don't. This is going to mess with the results. And you know you have patients who even when you do everything for still complain and moan.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I am more inclined to believe that people that have a negative experience are LESS likely to fill in a survey. They often feel that they don't have the words (or the space) to express their dissatisfaction. Some feel that they may be "punished" at later admissions if they say too much. I pick this up just speaking to patients that have had a negative experience. They are reluctant to express the problem they have encountered and instead just "stew" over it.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I agree with 8:05 am
    Patients know that they might to be on the same ward again and sometimes don't want to be remembered for their negative comments, even though their negative comments might be the truth.
    So they don't fill any form. Our ward sister always use the high percentage of good feedback to try to boost morale among the staff but we do know better.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous | 26-May-2015 10:44 pm

    good to know that you have a sister who considers her staff although not helpful. somebody in that position should know better and be a leader by example and teach those who have difficulties to see the reality and usefulness of constructive and negative criticism and how to deal with it if it is intentionally destructive.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Yes 10.44 pm. I constantly have people tell me that they would never fill a satisfaction survey in "honestly" because they fear reprisal. That if they are admitted for a second time or more, that they would fear being labelled as a moaner or whatever, but worse that they had witnessed or experienced reprimand whilst an inpatient on raising a complaint.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs