Failure of hospitals to meet safe staffing targets is no great surprise, says UNISON

An analysis published today (Monday) by the Health Service Journal, which found that nine in ten hospitals in England are failing to meet their own safe staffing targets for the number of nurses on wards, will come as no great surprise to staff, says UNISON.

Commenting on the findings UNISON head of health Christina McAnea said: “These findings sadly come as no great surprise. Anyone who works in the NHS knows only too well the service is under pressure as never before, and nowhere is that more keenly felt than on the wards.

“The UK has a national shortage of nurses and there simply aren’t enough to go round to ensure safe levels of patient care. Nurses know this and are running themselves into the ground – working through their breaks, staying late and coming in to cover shifts on their days off. No-one wants to work in such stressful conditions – it’s no surprise that so many nurses are considering alternative careers.

“Ministers should be hanging their heads in shame. Government policies are heaping untold pressure onto nurses, and proposals to scrap the nursing bursary will make a bad situation much worse.

“Research shows that the more nurses there are on duty, the better the level of patient care, and as a result mortality rates drop. The government could do well to learn from the Australian experience where new improved nurse-to-patient ratios saw 20,000 nurses come back into the profession. A similar approach here could work wonders for the NHS.”

UNISON media contacts:
Liz Chinchen T: 0207 121 5463 M: 07778 158175 E:
Sophie Goodchild T: 0207 121 5546 M: 07767 325595 E: