9 out of 10 Hospitals are Missing Targets for NHS Nursing Levels

December 21st, 2015
9 out of 10 Hospitals are Missing Targets for NHS Nursing Levels

Figures show that the majority of England’s hospitals are not recruiting enough nurses.

Around 92% of the 225 acute hospitals in England failed to manage wards during the day with the expected number of nurses in August.

The figures have been published by the NHS and show that England’s hospitals are missing their targets for safe levels of staffing.

The Health Service Journal carried out analysis that proves average levels of staffing across the acute hospital sites were worse in August in comparison to January’s data, when 85% of establishments did not meet staffing targets for nurses at work in the daytime.

The figures also show that 81% of hospitals didn’t have enough registered nurses at work during the night. Around 79% of hospitals did not meet their target for registered nurse staffing across the day and the night.

Many hospitals have recently had to rely on recruitment from overseas along with agency staff in order to provide safe levels of staffing. However, this additional spending has contributed to NHS deficits.

Since April last year, it has been a requirement for hospitals to publish monthly data on whether their wards have enough nurses. According to the Department of Health, staffing is a priority and a spokesperson said that there are currently 50,000 nurses in training as part of a long-term solution.

The government is to scrap the cap on the number of nurses that can go into training in a bid to help boost the numbers. 7,600 more nurses have been placed on wards since May 2010.

However, as this happens, bursaries for student nurses are being replaced by loans and unions warn that this could deter people from choosing a career in nursing.

Also, the staffing problem isn’t simply an issue of numbers. It also concerns having the correct mixture of skills. Highly trained senior staff also need to be recruited and retained.

Chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, Janet Davies said that hospitals are trying to catch up on their levels of staffing.

Speaking to reporters, she said they were initially trying to save money, which is why posts were cut and not enough nurses were trained. She said it’s important to keep the nurses the hospitals already have as well as catching up on staffing levels, as many are leaving due to being overtired.

Justin Madders, Labour shadow health minister, said the government’s cuts have left wards in hospitals dangerously understaffed and this has forced NHS bosses to waste money on expensive agency nurses.

Last week, a survey in the Nursing Times suggested that staff are under so much pressure that safe patient care cannot be guaranteed.

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