Are the Failings of the NHS Due to Stress at Work?

Are the Failings of the NHS Due to Stress at Work?

The NHS is constantly being lampooned with stories of failings or gross misconduct which seem to plague our newspapers. Whilst the members of the public and the government ask why it’s happening and asking for change – sometimes it appears that issues are being swept under the carpet.
The constant cuts to the NHS have left the once tall proud Oak tree more like a hapless sapling and the staff now have the hard task of trying to keep it from snapping.
The Independent reported that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has come out and said that the danger of understaffed NHS wards can no longer be ignored.
It seems inevitable that under the current conditions where nurse and patient ratios are out of keel that something is going to have to give. Is it not possible that under the massive strain of the cuts they are beginning to feel the pinch?
This was shown when figures were published last month revealing that nurses missed 1000 hours of work in the first three months of the year due to stress.
The figures obtained from the Sunderland Royal Hospital showed that the staff most vulnerable to stress and exhaustion were the staff nurses and specialist nurse practitioners (SNPs).
In January this year the figures of SNPs absenteeism due to stress had almost tripled from the 2012. In 2013 it had reached 93 hours as oppose to 24 hours in 2012.
Staff nurses also took 100 more hours off than the previous year.
Figures have steadily grown over the last couple of years and the numbers of midwives off with stress has doubled over two years.
Nurse to patient ratios aren’t the only concern Sir Bruce Keogh’s review showed that 14 trusts in the country are understaffed. The review was started to try and discover why certain trusts had such high mortality rates.
The stress that the staff are under at work could be an explanation for the errors and mistakes that have been made.
According to a new major review by Prof Don Berwick published today patient safety ‘must be top priority in NHS’.
How can the NHS ensure patient safety comes first when staff don’t feel as though they have enough support and are frequently signed off work often due to stress?
The mistakes that are being made are an indication that the staff need more support.
The BBC reported that Prof Don Berwick ‘resisted calls for set minimum staffing ratios but said trusts should be keeping a close eye on staffing levels to make sure patient care was not suffering.’
With the system publicly being labelled overstretched will people who need to keep an eye on staffing levels have the time to ensure that the same mistakes aren’t being made again.
Prof Berwick believes the key is transparency.
“By introducing an even more transparent culture one where mistakes are learnt from where the wonderful staff of the NHS are supported to learn and grow the NHS will see real and lasting change.”
If the NHS staff members are given the support that they need and Prof Berwick believes they will attain then maybe the numbers of those being signed off with stress from work will diminish but until then the numbers are sure to grow.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment