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UK Hospitals Face ‘Dangerous’ Nurse Shortages As Patients Die Alone

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UK Nurse Shortages

The British government is faced with rather a sad development as patients are being left to die alone in hospitals amid ‘dangerous’ nursing shortages, a new report reveals.

In 2023, the government announced a series of restrictions designed to reduce migration to the UK, including a ban on most international students’ family members.

However, recent research carried out by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) suggests that just one-third of shifts have enough nurses on duty.

According to the report, shortages mean staff often ends up caring for dozens of patients at a time, with experts calling for safety-critical limits on the number of patients a single nurse can be responsible for.

A survey of more than 11,000 nursing staff found many were demoralised from being unable to keep patients safe, the RCN said.

In hospitals and community settings, just a third said their shift had the planned number of registered nurses on it. And significant numbers of A&E and outpatient nurses reported having more than 51 patients to care for.

A nurse working in the community in south-west England said: ‘We have days when we have 60 visits unallocated because we don’t have enough staff. ‘We are always rushing.’

Another in the south of England said: ‘We leave over 50 patients requiring care unseen daily due to poor staffing levels.

‘This leads to increases in hospital admissions and death. It is left to us to decide who gets seen and who gets missed, which is heart-breaking.’

In a hospital in the West Midlands, one nurse said: “I have not been able to sit with patients who are dying, meaning they have been left to die alone.

‘I have not had the time to make sure patients are fed properly and have adequate drinks,” the report indicates.

And a midwife in a hospital in Yorkshire said: “Completely unsafe care due to unacceptable staffing levels.”

RCN acting general secretary Nicola Ranger said nurses are “fighting a losing battle to keep patients safe’ and described staffing levels as ‘dangerous to patients and demoralising for nursing staff’.

“We desperately need urgent investment in the nursing workforce but also to see safety-critical nurse-patient ratios enshrined in law. That is how we improve care and stop patients coming to harm,” she added.

Ironically, the Nigerian government is barring nurses from job migration overseas until they have served for not less than two years after graduation.

However, the nurses are not taking any of such directives as their work conditions are nothing to write home about.

Nigerian nurses are protesting the new rules to prevent them from working abroad for two years after completing their training, a rule imposed by authorities trying to stop the exodus of medical talent being mirrored across the continent.

Hundreds of nurses have picketed the health regulator’s offices in Abuja and Lagos in recent days, demanding the withdrawal of the policy.

As of March 2024, the number of registered Nigerian-trained nurses in the UK surged by 625 percent in the six months leading to September 2023, as revealed by a report from the UK Nurses and Midwifery Council (NMC).

The report shows that 12,099 Nigerian-educated nurses joined the UK workforce in the six months leading to September 2023, compared to the 1,670 registered nurses recorded during the same period in 2022.

“We’ve seen the number of professionals joining the register for the first time between April and September more than double in the last five years – from 14,311 joiners in the six months to September 2018 to 30,103 in the same period this year,” the NMC said.

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