The Royal College of Nursing has warned it is “inevitable” frontline care will be affected by staffing cuts, in response to a highly critical report on nutrition and dignity standards.
The Care Quality Commission today published a report on standards at 12 hospitals, which forms the first wave of inspections by the regulator into dignity and nutrition for older people at 100 hospitals across England. Further reports will be published in coming weeks.
In particular, the CQC was critical of standards at three hospitals – the Alexandra Hospital in Worcestershire, Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust and the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead – saying they had broken the law when it came to providing older people with essential standards of care on dignity and nutrition.
Responding to the report, RCN chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said: “Some of the concerns raised in this report are truly shocking and we are clear that there is simply no excuse for failing to treat patients with the respect and dignity they deserve.
But he added: “We know that with 40,000 NHS posts already earmarked to be lost, and many more expected to go, frontline care is inevitably going to be affected. In a recent RCN survey, just 17% of respondents said that staffing levels at their workplace were quite good or very good, and a quarter of nurses said they provided last minute cover for absentee staff at least fortnightly.
“Poor standards of care are often accompanied by an underlying failure in ensuring safe staffing levels and the right level of skill.”
Mr Carter, while noting that there were “relatively small pockets of the NHS that do not deliver good nursing care and this is unacceptable”, said it was vital the three trusts identified as failing acted to rectify the situation. He also called on the Nursing and Midwifery Council as the regulator to act on the findings “as a matter of the utmost urgency”.
He added: “The report also highlights many examples of excellent care delivered by nurses and across the NHS, the majority of patients report that their care is good or excellent. However, this will be no consolation to the patients and their relatives who have experienced poor care.”