The BMA announced this morning that a motion to strike following the ballot of Junior Doctors has passed meaning the three strike dates in December will go ahead. This post will outline a few steps you can take, as a nurse, to support the doctors strike yet minimise the impact of the Doctors’ Strike on your patients.
Patient safety is of paramount importance and it is crucial we keep patients safe during this period, this post is simply a guide you will know what is best for your patients and you should use your clinical judgement and escalate within your organisation if you have serious concerns about patient safety.
1. COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR PATIENTS
Ensure your patients are aware of the industrial action taking place, explain any impact this may have on them and their treatment. Explain that there is still consultant cover and there are doctors available should they be needed in an emergency but routine and non-urgent treatment will be delayed.
2. KNOW YOUR TRUST OR ORGANISATIONS PLAN
NHS Trusts and organisations around the country will be putting in place measures to minimise the impact on patients and ensure safety, make sure you read this guidance early, ask any questions and speak to your line manager if you have any concerns about patient safety before the industrial action.
3. REVIEW DRUGS CARDS OR PRESCRIPTIONS
A delay in critical drugs can be life threatening so it’s important in the days before the strike ensure any prescriptions or drug cards are written or rewritten if they are due to expire, medications are reviewed and arrangements have been made for any medication that is for the administration by ‘Doctors Only’.
You should also ensure that patients have adequate pain relief, anti-sickness and IV fluids prescribed if appropriate.
4. ENSURE THERE IS A MEDICAL PLAN IN PLACE
Ensure that you have an established plan in place for your patients treatment, know what should happen if your patient deteriorates and ensure any test or investigations that require a Doctor are rearranged promptly.
You should clarify any criteria for escalation, ensure DNRs are written and any plans are clearly documented.
5. DISCHARGE EARLY
Discharge safely or do not discharge at all!
If your patient is due to be discharged during the period of action ensure any TTOs and discharge letters are written early, outpatients appointments are made and the patient has been spoken to by a member of the medical team.
If possible discharge the day before or after the action but ensure patient flow within your organisation.
6. INCREASE STAFFING
It is likely there will be an increased demand on emergency and secondary care services during the period of action, if possible ensure your ward or area is well staffed.
7. ENSURE PATIENT SAFETY DURING THE STRIKE
YOU know your area of work better than us, YOU know the steps you need to take in order to ensure YOUR patients are safe.
If you have any tips you want to share to help us support the doctors while keeping patients safe, post them in the comments section.
Nursing vacancies hit record high leaving patient care at risk
It can be “dangerous” when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care.
There are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone.
NHS figures show that there are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
The College says a global shortage of nurses alongside the removal of the nursing bursary has compounded this figure which now sees 12% of posts through the NHS in England without a full-time Registered Nurse.
Figures from the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) show a 29% overall decline in applications to undergraduate courses since 2015, when the bursary was cut by the Government.
In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the Royal College of Nursing outlines the evidence of the need for a new law that allocates specific legal responsibilities for workforce planning and supply.
A new law is needed.
The report states that in order to address the record number of vacancies, and the gap between the numbers of health and care staff needed to deliver patient care vs. how many are in the system.
Figures included in the report reveal that the number of nursing staff has consistently failed to keep up with the dramatic rise in demand for services and the number of emergency admissions.
The report finally makes a further call for legal clarity on the roles, responsibilities, as well as accountabilities, for workforce planning and supply.
In September, after pressure from RCN members, NHS England and NHS Improvement asked the Government for clarity over who is accountable for the nursing workforce.
‘Nurses are working harder than ever’.
Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Nurses are working harder than ever to deliver safe patient care but are being held back by a system that is legally lacking teeth. Despite the public, patients and nurses all agreeing that clarity is needed on responsibilities for delivering enough nurses, we have yet to see any government pledge anything of the like, and as a result are staring down the barrel at a record 43k empty nursing posts.
“We know how dangerous it can be when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care, but at present, almost all accountability rests with the frontline nurse working on the understaffed ward, rather than those responsible for the system they work in.
“We believe the time has come for change and that patient care was future-proofed by law, and that from the government down, decision makers are held to account.
NHS calls for clarity on who is accountable for the nursing workforce
Figures suggest there are around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England.
Healthcare leaders are calling for legislation to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.
NHS England and NHS Improvement have called on the Government to clarify who is accountable for the nursing workforce and the chronic problems it’s currently facing.
Following ongoing pressure from nursing unions, the two organisations met today and recommend that the government should “revisit with partners whether national responsibilities and duties in relation to workforce functions are sufficiently clear.”
With around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the NHS in England and thousands more throughout social care, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) believes the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care should be legally accountable for the workforce.
Along with other health care leaders, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, written to the Government calling for the legislation proposed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.
Staff shortages have reached ‘alarming levels’.
Responding to the news, Dame Donna Kinnair said: “We are pleased that NHS England and NHS Improvement has recognised the concerns of RCN members and the public and has stated that the issue of accountability for workforce planning and supply remains an area that needs be resolved.”
“In the week after we have launched a major public facing campaign calling for investment in the nursing workforce as well as for accountability to be clarified in the law, yet again, the case is made for this to be taken seriously.
“We are clear that government is well placed to determine how accountability can be clarified in law.
Adding; “Staff shortages have reached alarming levels with at least 40,000 vacant registered nurse posts in the NHS in England alone with thousands more vacancies in public health and social care.
“We now hope government will listen to this message, as well as the voices of the thousands of members that responded to the NHS England engagement process, and bring forward this legislation, taking the opportunity to include accountability in government and throughout the health and care system, for workforce planning and supply.”
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