Skip to comments.Old people ‘not safe’ in Scottish hospitals, nurses say
Posted on 03/20/2012 3:52:34 PM PDT by wagglebee
OLDER patients are not safe on hospital wards in Scotland because of a lack of qualified nurses to care for them, a hard-hitting report from the body representing the nursing profession has warned.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) findings come after it emerged the number of nurses in Scotlands hospitals plummeted by thousands in just over two years, with further nursing posts lost during the last few months of 2011.
The report suggests there is just one nurse caring for nearly ten patients on old peoples wards.
A survey of almost 1,700 nurses found that 78 per cent said comforting and talking to patients was not done or done inadequately on their last shift because of low staff numbers.
Some 59 per cent said promoting mobility and self-care was left undone or unfinished, with 34 per cent saying they could not provide patients with food and drink, and 33 per cent claiming they were unable to fully help patients to the toilet or manage incontinence.
The Scottish Government insisted that the elderly were absolutely not at risk.
The RCNs UK-wide figures showed that staffing levels on wards for older patients compare poorly with those for adult general wards, where each nurse cares for around 6.7 patients, and a figure of 4.2 patients per nurse for children,
The RCN said the number of nursing and midwifery staff employed in Scotland had fallen by 2,190 to 56,238 a drop of 3.7 per cent between September 2009 and the end of 2011.
There were also 71 nursing posts lost in Scotland between September and December 2011, according to the RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe, who said the number of nurses employed was at a six-year low.
The report called on the Scottish Government to take urgent action to increase the number of nurses on old peoples wards, which it said should be a minimum of one nurse to seven patients.
The RCN warned there was a danger that care becomes compromised and said that many nurses say they are too busy to provide the standard of care they would like.
The report said: Older people in Scotland are being let down by a lack of professionally qualified nurses in hospitals, despite nationally agreed planning for the nursing workforce.
Despite older people often having the most complex needs, the evidence suggests that they regularly suffer from a severe shortage of nurses and healthcare support workers (HCSWs), coupled with an inappropriate skill mix of HCSWs to nurses.
Todays evidence shows that currently one nurse cares for around nine patients on older peoples wards. The RCN says that this is not enough to provide basic, safe care, which requires a minimum of one nurse to seven patients. The charity Age Scotland seized on the findings to demand dramatic improvements to care services in the community, to keep older people safe and out of hospital.
Callum Chomczuk, its senior policy and parliamentary officer, said: We need a shift in the balance of care where resources are focused in the community.
Ms Fyffe said the number of nurses employed by NHS Scotland was at its lowest level since September 2006 and said more than 2,000 nursing and midwifery posts had been lost since September 2009.
Cutting that number of qualified nurses in-post is bound to affect staffing levels and the mix or balance of qualified nurses and healthcare support workers on our hospital wards, she said.
Ms Fyffe said some health boards were doing better than others. I would urge those health boards which are cutting the number of qualified nurses, particularly on older peoples wards, to seriously reconsider their actions, she added.
The RCNs findings sparked claims from opposition parties at Holyrood that Scotlands NHS was under huge strain, with a damaging effect on older patients.
Scottish Lib Dem health spokeswoman Alison McInnes said: This loss of skill and expertise threatens the quality of care that patients, especially older and vulnerable patients, can expect to receive. The Scottish Government have a duty of care to ensure that staffing levels are appropriate so the care provided is effective, efficient and equal.
Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said that the levels of care for older patients were not sustainable and NHS staffwere too stretched with their workloads.
She said: This report highlights the very real consequences the SNPs cuts to the health service are having on Scotlands older people. We are increasingly seeing a negative impact on standards because hospital staff are too stretched to provide the level of care our older people deserve. Low staffing levels will also take their toll on the hard-working nurses who are being asked to do more.
Meanwhile the RCN called for a patient guarantee to set out the number of nurses needed on older peoples wards.
Ms Fyffe challenged Scottish ministers to give serious consideration to the guarantee, of a minimum of one professionally qualified nurse per seven patients.
She said: As health boards come under increasing financial pressure to deliver the same services to more and more people, they are saving money when nurses leave by not replacing them or by replacing them with nurses and healthcare support workers at lower-paid bands.
Older people often have more complex health conditions so they must be given the best care by an appropriate mix of qualified nurses and healthcare support workers. This is particularly the case if stays in hospital are to be minimised so older people can return home or to a care home as soon as reasonably possible.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said the report was based on UK-wide data and there is no breakdown of Scotland-specific data, so we cannot comment on the implications for NHS Scotland.
She continued: Older patients are absolutely not at risk in Scottish hospitals because of lack of nurses and to suggest otherwise is wrong there are more qualified nurses working in our hospitals now than in 2006.
Whilst the report focuses on nurse ratios, we also need to recognise the contribution of the wider healthcare team in delivering better outcomes for patients on older peoples wards.
There’s a reason why Britain was called ‘Perfidious Albion’ from days of old. That phrase is easily applied between the British government and its subjects.
“Perfidious Albion is a pejorative phrase used within the context of international relations and diplomacy to refer to acts of duplicity, treachery and hence infidelity (with respect to promises made to or alliances formed with other nation states) by monarchs or governments of Britain (or England) in their pursuit of self-interest and the requirements of realpolitik.
Perfidious signifies one who does not keep his faith or word (from the Latin word “perfidia”), while Albion is the ancient Greek name for Great Britain.”
NHScare for Americans!
Scotland runs its own NHS. The Scots Gnats are responsible for this one, not HM Government. BTW, what is with your obsessive anglophobia?
The reason for my anglophobia? I don’t have an irrational fear of the UK. I just now understand that the UK is the cesspool of Leftism/Liberalism that has been a plague on the West for a number of decades.
I used to have a very positive view of the UK, but as I have learned more and more about where the West and America gets all of these crazy Leftist ideas and scams that are driving them into the abyss of destruction, that view has changed to a very negative one.
Remember the Iceland banking scandal and meltdown of their economy? It originated out of London. Those pickpockets in “Oliver Twist” are now the bankers in the UK!
Who has the largest GDP to debt ratio in the world? The UK. Why? To support their welfare state that was set up after WWII. You can’t even have a decent military anymore because the welfare state gets priority! LOL! And look how America followed in the UK’s footsteps with the creation of our own welfare state that now takes up at least 60 percent of our budget. And that percentage keeps going up!
Cash for clunkers program? It started in the UK first and we followed right along! It does go by a different name in the UK.
Do you remember a few years ago during the Bush administration when the UK government and press decided not to call Muslim terrorists, “Muslim terrorists”? About six months after that the Bush administration adopted the small rule as well as our press! Reality check: Muslims by definition are terrorists because the Koran specifically commands Muslims to inflict terror into the hearts of the infidels.
If the UK disappeared tomorrow it would actually be a good thing!
Now where did the Scotts get the idea to have their own NHS? Could it be...the UK????
As a patient one would be much better off in a third-world country hospital. No kidding. Nurse at your side most all the time.
I'm an old, white guy. Send him on over.
And the biggest reason why I can’t stand the UK?
Because, whether he was born in a British colony (like Kenya as his paternal grandmother and others claim) or abroad in places like Hawaii, his Obama’s father, a British citizen, passed on his citizenship to his son, Barack. Once his Indonesian citizenship ended he never naturalized anywhere else and has never formally renounced his British citizenship so by default his citizenship went back to British.
Even if he followed the USA’s immigration laws and became a citizen he still legally would not be able to be POTUS.
Now the UK’s village idiot is illegally running the USA and he is turning out to be the worst President in the history of it. He is an absolute incompetent and arrogant fool! You could have at least sent somebody with some brains! You can take back your village idiot because he has done enough damage already!
The cowards won’t come to kill you. They’ll enslave you to a Federal controlled machine that will not help you when you are sick because you are economically benefitual to the economy. You won’t be strong enough to do anything about it. If you are fortunate, you will be personally rich enough to help yourself without insurance. Many will be killed.
The Scottish govt let him go.
The Scottish people did not, and did not support the decision.
Pan Am 103, genius.
TWA 800 was the one you lot may have shot down yourself. Oh, the irony.
Crap. We have our problems, but the UK is a fine country to live in.
And the NHS, whilst flawed and in need of reform, is not the third rate hellhole Americans believe it is. By and large
As a Scot, I can tell you, that despite undoubted problems, the Scottish NHS works. I have been a patient, son of two parents whose lives have been saved by the first class care they received in it, and also have been an NHS worker.
This report is depressing, but the NHS is not a third world healthcare system. If most Americans used it, I think they would be surprised to find it isnt nearly as bad as they think. And it would be free for them.
My last post should have read: ‘By and large, it is a good system that works.’.
No you wouldnt, please read my reply to clintonfatigued, where I give an honest assessment of Scotland’s NHS and the general UK NHS.
It’s interesting to hear about it from someone who lives there.
Yeah, but every post he writes about the UK is “Everything’s A-OK”.
“The Scottish govt let him go.
The Scottish people did not, and did not support the decision.”
My minister told me that the people were very upset....including his family. He is from Glasgow.
I just point out that we arent the dhimmi hellhole you think we are.
Free?? Are you telling us that out of the goodness and magnaminity of their hearts, the Scottish government provides and pays for health care for all citizens and visitors to its nation?
Don't you contribute in any way to your health care system? Or do you....
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