In March, UNISON at a UK level asked nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants and other staff to chart their experiences including the pressures of a typical working day.
The responses revealed some shocking insights:
“Crisis has become the norm.”
“My workload meant that I was unable to deliver the standard of care that I would like. And I considered it unsafe.”
“It is so unfair to the patients that have to wait for long periods to have a wash or get changed or even to get attention because we are too busy dealing with so many things at the same time.”
When asked, ‘Did you feel you had an adequate amount of time to spend with each patient?’ more than 75% said ‘No’ (76.8%). More than 70% said they did not have enough time to spend with patients to deliver dignified, safe, compassionate care. Almost 90% supported legislation to set minimum nurse to patient ratios, as a means to improving patient care.
In support of the survey findings, delegates at UNISON’s health care conference in Brighton last week voted to launch a campaign for nursing staffing levels to be legally enforceable and increased to a minimum and safe level to protect patients and health workers.
Christina McAnea, UNISON Head of Health, said: “UNISON’s survey shows staff are under severe pressure to cope with the sheer number of patients and their complex and varied medical needs. 90% of those surveyed want legislation to set minimum nurse to patient ratios. While there is no ‘one-size fits all’ solution to setting safe staffing levels, it is clear that without them patient care is being compromised and patients’ lives are at risk.”
“Self-policing is just not working especially in this climate of budget cuts. It is time to confront the evidence which clearly demonstrates that mandatory staffing levels are directly associated with a reduction in patient deaths.”