NHS hospitals are preparing to face their worst winter on record.
Whole hospital wards are already “running on a single registered nurse” as an acute on chronic staffing shortage hits UK hospitals.
It is expected that NHS hospitals will face their worst winter on record given a spike in COVID cases, a record-breaking waiting list backlog, and severe staffing shortages.
Registered nurses, midwives, and nursing associates working told NursingNotes that staffing across all healthcare settings is currently “very unsafe” (88%) in a survey on the state of the workforce.
The majority of respondents (53%) said that in the past three weeks they had worked in, what they consider to be, “dangerously low” staffing levels.
Most shockingly, one in eight hospital nurses said they had been the only nurse on duty on at least one occasion during the same period.
Isolation rules, staff burnout, and mental health issues were reported to be among the primary reasons for rota gaps and short staffing.
One nurse commented; “I get so anxious about coming to work, knowing that I can’t do the best for my patients because we don’t have enough staff.
They go on to warn that; “it isn’t fair on patients, it isn’t fair on staff and without a plan, we are going to lose more of our colleagues to burnout and Fitness to Practice proceedings”.
England has around 50,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the NHS alone.
Nurses United UK lead organiser Anthony Johnson responded to the results of the survey; “Sadly this isn’t new – throughout all parts of the UK the safety of patients, but also nurses, is being compromised.
“The National guidance for acute inpatients states that there should be at least 1 nurse for every 8 patients. I don’t think any nurse in the UK has worked within that guidance for a long time.
“This Government has underfunded our workforce and is responsible for this lack of safety. When the inevitable happens this Christmas, they are to blame.”