The latest survey from the Royal College of Nursing shows that older patients are being let down by a shortage of nurses in the NHS.
The RCN, representing 400,000 nurses, has called for guaranteed minimum numbers on wards to give staff the time to look after elderly patients.
Research shows that each nurse looks after 9 elderly patients in the NHS. But the ratio to provide good, safe care is 1 in 7. Adult general wards have an average of 6.7 patients per nurse, and children’s wards have one nurse to every 4.2 patients.
The latest RCN survey of 1,700 nurses revealed that the low ratio of staff to nurses means that elderly patients are missing out on basic care.
78 per cent of respondents said that on their last shift, comforting and talking to patients was either not done or done inadequately because of lack of staff.
59 per cent admitted that patients did not receive help with their mobility, and 34 per cent did not have time to help patients with eating and drinking.
33 per cent said they could not do as much as possible to help patients with toileting needs.
Dr Peter Carter, the RCN's general secretary, said: "Patients on older people's wards are being let down by systemic failings in our hospitals.”
Despite working tirelessly to provide patients with high quality care, nurses in these settings have repeatedly told us that they are unable to do this because of pressures caused by short-staffing."
This survey comes after news that more than half of nurses think that patient care is mediocre or worse, with some admitting they are ashamed of their profession.
Nursing Standard magazine carried out a poll of 2,554 nurses. It found that 58 per cent thought care was ‘mediocre’ or worse. 10 per cent of these believed care was ‘worryingly very low’, and another 10 per cent said it was ‘low’.
A series of damning reports last year exposed how elderly patients are being routinely neglected on NHS wards.
A Royal College of Nursing (RCN) report recently showed that nearly 50,000 jobs in the NHS are under threat or have already gone. In total, 3.5 per cent of the NHS will be cut by 2015, the equivalent of shutting four large hospital trusts.
With the NHS under increasing pressure to make savings, 2012 might be a good time to compare health insurance quotes to be covered for treatment on your private medical insurance.
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