Overcrowded wards have been blamed for nurses’ apparent lack of time for patients. Tina Donnelly, who is head of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, advised that this situation leaves nurses without the time to listen or aid patients with their rehabilitation. Her comments were made in response to claims made by Ann Clwyd, the Labour MP, that her late husband who had multiple sclerosis was neglected on the wards by nurses at University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff shortly before his death in October. Mrs Clwyd reported that after receiving hundreds of written concerns about nurses’ lack of care and compassion, she plans to lead a campaign to raise standards.
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Time is the issue
While the “time to care” scheme, which aims to deal with this issue, has been in place for two years, little progress has been made so far and is planned to be a long-term initiative. However, nurses themselves are aware of the problem and have reported to the Royal College of Nursing that they are saddened they do not have the time to attend to patients needs. The number of nursing staff on wards in Welsh hospitals is based on the assumption that wards will be 85% full, but in reality numerous wards run closer to full occupancy. This situation stretches those nursing staff on duty to their limits and affects the way in which they carry out their duties. They are constantly battling against the clock to get their duties done and when under such pressure it can unfortunately appear to patients that they do not have time for them. It is not that they don’t want to respond to their calls, but they are constrained by all the other duties they have to complete. Nurses are trying to do the best they can in the very limited time they have available.
The need to highlight failings
However, Carwyn Jones the First Minister is sceptical that nurses can be too busy to provide compassionate care for patients. The suggestion that nurses are deliberately acting without care and compassion goes against the very reason why nurses enter the profession and this type of behaviour is not tolerated. Nurses already have a duty to report instances where they believe colleagues are acting without compassion and are not providing adequate care for the patients under their charge. Ms Donnelly encourages that all complaints regarding lack of care and compassion shown by nursing should be reported and investigated by management and professional bodies.
By Amy Millband