UK & World News
89% Of Nurses Say A&E Patients Put In Danger
Nine out of 10 nurses working in acute and emergency care believe current pressure on A&E services is putting patients in danger, a nursing union has warned.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said a survey of its members found that 89% of nursing staff thought the people they were meant to be caring for were being put at risk.
Some 85% said patient safety was being compromised by the strain on departments, while one in five said this was the case on every shift.
The poll of 416 RCN members found 89% said they had experienced increased pressure in their A&E department in the last six months.
More than three quarters cited increased attendance at A&E as the reason for increased pressure, while 74% blamed inappropriate attendance at A&E where patients could have been treated elsewhere.
The survey also found 57% cited a lack of beds for patients coming into A&E, while 54% said there were too few health care staff on duty to cope with demand.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: "Our member survey demonstrates the same picture that NHS Confederation leaders are painting - that emergency services and the staff working within them are under increasing pressure which is putting patient safety at risk.
"Staff enter the health profession to save and improve lives through first class care.
"However they simply cannot deliver this if there are too few staff to properly treat and monitor the increasing numbers of patients, not enough beds to put them in and no clear signposting to community care that could prevent attendance at A&E."
The survey was conducted in July.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We know A&E departments are under pressure. There are over one million more people visiting A&E compared to three years ago.
"However we know, on the whole the NHS is performing well, latest weekly figures show 96% of patients were seen in under four hours and there are more clinical staff, including 4,300 more doctors since 2010.
"We have given A&E departments an additional £500m to make sure the best care is available for every patient this winter and the next and have set aside an additional £3.8bn to help join up health and care services."