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Staff shortages 'risk new NHS scandal'

Unison research finds Mid Staffs could happen again as hospital staff are stretched to breaking point

Chronic staff shortages across the NHS are putting many hospitals at risk of another Mid Staffs scandal, nurses warned yesterday.

Hospitals up and down Britain are stretched to breaking point, according to shocking research published by public-sector union Unison at the start of its health conference this week.

Many nurses said they did not have enough time to look after patients despite many working overtime and through their lunch breaks.

In some cases nurses have eight or more patients to look after, with the ratio rising even more on night shifts.

The Running On Empty report sees health workers warn that their site is at risk of becoming another Stafford Hospital scandal.

Mid Staffordshire became the first foundation trust in Britain to be put into administration last year after a public inquiry found that up to 1,200 patients died needlessly because of routine neglect.

Unison head of nursing Gail Adams said “the spectre of another Mid Staffs still looms large over the NHS” despite Con-Dem government claims to whitewash concerns.

“Progress on safe staffing levels has been glacial and that means poorer care and patients still at risk,” she said.

An obsessive target-driven culture by the hospital’s management, which implemented massive staff cuts, was flagged as a cause in the survey of 3,000 nurses.

One respondent warned: “On occasions, staffing levels are bordering on dangerous.

“We are in a Mid Staffs situation and I don’t believe we are the only ones.”

The survey also raised concerns over the reliance on agency staff, which Unison said was not cost-effective or in the best interests of patients.

Ministers’ stingy decision to deny NHS workers a 1 per cent pay rise will be the subject of angry debate as delegates decide how best to respond, with many likely to push for strikes.

Unison head of health Christina McAnea pointed out that NHS pay has been cut by 10 per cent in real terms since the coalition came to power.


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