On the 4th March 2014 Unison completed its annual ‘staffing levels’ survey. Nearly 3000 nurses and midwives from across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland took part in the survey which spot tests working conditions over a 24 hour period.
On the day of the survey:
-48% of nurses described their workplace as being at risk of or already partially going through, a crisis similar to that which happened in Mid-Staffordshire.
-59% of nurses felt that there was not adequate staff numbers to deliver ‘safe, dignified and compassionate care’.
-65% of nurses felt that they did not have enough time with patients.
-51% of nurses reported not feeling confident about reporting problems to their superiors.
-45% of nurses worked at least 60 minutes more than their contracted hours with many also working through their breaks.
The corresponding report released by Unison draws attention to the fact that this year’s results are very similar to those from 2013 and therefore indicates a lack of progress or ‘significant change’ over the last year.
The report also included a range of quotes from nurses who took part in the survey. Many said that they felt extremely worried about poor staffing levels and the negative effect this can have on patient care.
“Usual day but staff skill mix was very poor. As I was the only trained nurse, I had to scrub for every case on the list. I had no coffee/toilet break, only 10 minute lunch break to keep the list running. I was scrubbed from 9am until 8 .30pm (due to an emergency) I worked an hour over my 11 .5 hr shift”
“I leave all shifts absolutely exhausted and stressed because I feel like I haven’t done all the things I wanted to do due to being busy”
“We all worked through our lunch and worked over our hours .”
“The staffing levels in my opinion are dangerous and this is an accident waiting to happen”
On the day of the survey 41% of nurses reported that they were looking after 8 or more patients despite evidence that the risk of harm to a patient is greatly increased when a nurse exceeds this number. Unison, along with a number of other organisations, is currently campaigning for the government to introduce minimum nurse to patient ratios.
You can read more about the survey on the Unison website here: https://www.unison.org.uk/content/conNewsArticle/4961