Unsafe and undignified ‘corridor care’ the new norm, finds RCN

 “Patients deserve better, staff deserve better; enough is enough.”

Matt Bodell
26 February 2020
Corridor in modern hospital

Nurses say patient safety is being compromised by the practice.

Providing care to hospital patients in corridors and other non-clinical areas is becoming normalised, finds a survey of A&E nurses by the Royal College of Nursing.

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Almost 90 per cent of nurses surveyed saying the term ‘corridor nursing’ is now being used at their Trust with around the same amount admitting the safety of patients is being compromised by the practice.

Nurses replying to the survey highlighted a number of serious problems in providing care in corridors, such as the difficulty of administering urgent intravenous antibiotics, lack of access to toilet facilities for patients, lack of privacy and dignity, and increased distress for patients, particularly those with mental health problems.

The RCN is running a campaign on safe nurse staffing across the UK calling for investment in the nursing workforce by Government and NHS leaders.

Patient safety is being compromised.

Commenting on the survey findings, Mike Adams, RCN Director for England, said: “This survey shows that having to deliver care in crowded corridors is becoming increasingly the norm for NHS nursing staff.

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“Highly complex procedures such as insertion of intravenous lines and medication should not have to be carried out in conditions like these, while it is completely unacceptable that patients’ privacy and dignity are being undermined by lack of access to toilet facilities while they’re stuck in corridors.

“The reasons for the increased pressure on A&E departments are many and well-known – too few staff, not enough beds to admit patients to, and a lack of social care affecting hospitals’ ability to discharge patients quickly enough.

“But as a result, nurses in emergency departments are being put under intolerable pressure to keep patients safe. Nursing staff are trained to act as advocates for their patients, and Ministers and NHS leaders must listen to what nurses have told us – patient safety is being compromised too often at present”.

Patients deserve better.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chair of Council for the British Medical Association, added: “These findings are alarming and highlight the grim reality of the way in which patients have to be cared for in our health service and the conditions that staff have to provide that care within.

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“This mirror what we have been hearing from doctors who, alongside our nursing colleagues, are having to provide care in premises often unfit for purpose amid intolerable levels of pressure. This is not a safe and sustainable way to run a health service.

“The Government’s long-term spending commitments still fall short of what is needed, and this must be addressed in the upcoming Budget to ensure there are enough beds and resources to deal with capacity and that staff can work in safe environments.

“Patients deserve better, staff deserve better; enough is enough.”

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