Nursing Shortages in UK Hospitals Result in Patients Left Untreated and Dying Alone, Survey Finds

A recent survey by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has revealed a dire situation in UK hospitals, where a severe shortage of registered nurses is leading to patients being left untreated and, in some cases, dying alone. 

The survey, which polled over 11,000 nursing staff across the UK, found that only one-third of shifts have adequate nurse staffing levels.

The staffing crisis, exacerbated by government-imposed migration restrictions in 2023, has left many nurses overwhelmed. 

According to Nicola Ranger, acting general secretary and chief executive of the RCN, nursing staff are struggling to keep patients safe under current conditions.

 "Without safety-critical limits on the maximum number of patients they can care for, nurses are being made responsible for dozens at a time, often with complex needs," Ranger said, describing the situation as both dangerous for patients and demoralizing for nurses.

The survey's findings are alarming: 81% of respondents reported insufficient numbers of nurses to ensure patient safety. 

In accident and emergency settings, many nurses are responsible for more than 51 patients, leading to significant delays and increased hospital admissions.

One community nurse in south-west England reported having 60 visits unallocated due to staff shortages.

 Another nurse in the south of England noted that over 50 patients requiring care are left unseen daily, which often results in increased hospital admissions and deaths.

The RCN survey follows a Channel 4 Dispatches program that revealed nearly 19,000 NHS patients endured waits of three days or more in A&E over a 12-month period.

 Ranger emphasized the urgent need for investment in the nursing workforce and the establishment of legally mandated nurse-patient ratios to improve care and prevent patient harm.

In related news, the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria recently mandated that Nigerian nurses and midwives must have at least two years of post-qualification work experience before their certificates can be verified by foreign nursing boards or councils. 

This policy has led to protests by hundreds of nurses at the health regulator’s offices in Abuja and Lagos.

 Last year, approximately 15,000 Nigerian nurses left for jobs abroad, highlighting a global issue of nursing shortages.

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