Government nursing recommendations

UNISON, the largest union for health workers, said today that the government’s failure to recommend minimum staffing levels in it’s response to the Mid Staffs report, make it a missed opportunity to boost patient care.

The union has been campaigning for many years on the importance of having the right number of staff with the right mix of skills on hospital wards, and the Mid Staffs report highlighted the importance of this in delivering high quality, compassionate and dignified patient care.

A recent survey by the union highlighted the worrying scale of the staffing problem; on March 6 2012, 76% of nurses said they could not deliver the safe, dignified, compassionate care that every patient deserves because there were not enough staff with the right skills on their ward.
UNISON has warned that the government’s massive NHS reforms coming into effect on April 1 are likely to cause far more chaos and damage as resources are shifted into dealing with this.

The union is also warning that there is no evidence that making student nurses work as healthcare assistants will boost standards. Student nurse already spend 50% of their training working on wards and in clinical settings. The union believes that this should be in longer, but fewer placements to give a broader picture of what life is really like on the wards.

UNISON is calling for the government to put a stop to these changes, freeze the £20 bn so-called efficiency savings and start listening to staff, patients and their families on how to improve services.

Christina McAnea, UNISON head of health, said:  “It is only right that the lessons of Mid Staff are learned, for all the patients who died and for their relatives.

“Nurses and other healthcare staff are crying out for safe staffing levels and for wards to have the right skills mix. Patients are suffering because this is not happening – the government has to start listening to health workers who have repeatedly raised these concerns.

“Instead of giving nurses their backing, the government is constantly running them down. It must be recognised that day in day out the NHS and its staff deliver excellent care in hospitals across the country.”

The union called for full registration of healthcare assistants, not just minimum standards of training and warned that without adequate funding, this would fail.


UNISON (National News Release) – Tel: 0845 355 0845