Specialist nurses must not be targets in deficits crisis - RCN and Bowel Cancer UK
Specialist nurses are being targeted to reduce mounting
NHS debts warns the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and Bowel Cancer
UK - a move the RCN calls 'deeply worrying'.
The RCN and Bowel Cancer UK surveyed nurses working in gastroenterology and stoma care across the UK. A total of 460 nurses responded to the
survey, with 47% having experience of either their own post – or
that of another specialist nurse in their area – being made redundant,
downgraded or frozen while vacant.
Other key findings include:
- 41% are worried about their future, with 124 respondents saying
their employment was not very secure, and another 59 reporting their
was not secure at all.
- 12% are aware of other specialist nurses in
their area being made redundant.
- More than a third (34%) are aware
of specialist nurses being asked to cover non-specialist shifts
on wards or departments.
An overwhelming majority of the nurses surveyed were worried
that services and patients would suffer because of cuts. Over
nurses who had either been made redundant or asked to work
on wards said patient care would suffer. A majority (60%) said there
be less face-to-face contact with patients, and 47% said patients
have longer waiting times.
Professor Christine Norton, Chair of the RCN Gastroenterology and
Stoma Care Forum, said:
“ The loss of specialist nursing posts
is deeply worrying. There are already too few nurses with this level
of skill working in the healthcare system. The loss of just one of
these experts will have a disproportionate impact on patients.
_ It is also a terrible waste of
their skills and training to have specialist nurses working shifts
on other wards or departments. It is unacceptable
that specialist nurses – or indeed any nurses – should
be seen as ‘soft targets’. Ultimately it is the patient
who ends up paying the price.”
Michael Wickham, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said:
nurses are vital in providing care to patients suffering from life-threatening
illnesses. We know from our own experience that patients value the
work of these nurses extremely highly. Any cuts in the number of practising
nurses can have nothing but a detrimental impact upon patients and
the quality of support they receive.
is essential that the funding and resources are in place to allow
these nurses to continue with their work and to maintain their
high standard of patient support. We would ask the NHS to seriously
review its practice with regards to the issues surrounding specialist
Bowel Cancer UK and the RCN surveyed gastroenterology and stoma care
nurses across the UK in July 2006. A full copy of the survey can be
found at http://www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk
More than half of the nurses surveyed (53% or 238 respondents) said
their access to training and development had been reduced in the past
year. Even more worryingly, one-quarter of the respondents (118) do
not see themselves working in the NHS in two years’ time. The
RCN and Bowel Cancer UK are calling on the Government to safeguard
these specialist posts, to ensure patients receive the best care possible.
Tim Barnes, a bowel cancer patient from Dorset, and chair of the Semi-Colons
patient support group, added:
“ Specialist nurses are absolutely
vital to patients and their carers. They are always there for you;
a shoulder to cry on; offering help, support and advice when you most
need it. I can’t believe that the Government is considering cutting
Source: Royal College of Nursing
For more information see http://www.rcn.org.uk.