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Over half of nurses at trusts rated 'inadequate' worried about staffing

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Nearly two-thirds of nurses at the eight hospital trusts currently rated as “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission believe they have insufficient staff to adequately care for patients.

A subset of data from the latest NHS staff survey shows that 60% of registered adult nurses across the eight trusts disagreed when asked if there were enough staff at their organisation for them to do their job “properly”.

This compares to 52% of nurses polled at the end of last year across all 157 acute trusts that submitted data to the Picker Institute via the survey.

At the eight trusts currently rated “inadequate”, the percentage of nurses disagreeing ranged from 56% at East Sussex Healthcare Trust to 74% at Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust (see graph, below).

 

The data – given to Nursing Times’ sister title Health Service Journal – comes in the wake of a large scale national and international recruitment drives by trusts for registered nurses. A number of trusts have said this has been responsible for the increasing number of hospital trusts declaring deficits and the rising spend on agency staff.

The new data breaks down a subset of the questions in the national staff survey by staff group and trust, showing which organisations had the most and least under pressure nurses and senior doctors.

A spokesman for the Colchester trust said: “The trust spent £63.8m on nursing and midwifery staff in 2014-15 compared with £60.5m the previous year, and we continue to pursue an aggressive nursing recruitment programme. Our focus is on recruiting locally and from EU countries.”

In contrast, nurses at Royal Brompton and Harefield FT, which has not yet been inspected under the new CQC system, were the most upbeat in England about the number of staff the organisation employed, with only 18.4% disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with the statement.

The findings follow a survey, carried out for the Royal College of Nursing in February, which said 88% of the public agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “We need many more nurses in hospitals to deliver safe care.”

NICE issued guidance in July that said hospitals employing staff on ratios of eight or more patients to one registered nurse on a “regular basis” could increase the risk of harm in adult inpatient wards. It suggested a 1:8 ratio should be a “red flag” incident requiring action by trusts.

Last month it was revealed that 85% of hospitals missed their own target for the number of nurses working on their wards in daytime.

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