Lack of care workers is putting patients at risk, says nurses

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The new government needs to come up with an emergency plan to tackle the lack of care professionals, which is causing high levels of work stress and is putting patients at risk, nurses’ association V&VN warns.

A survey by the association among 17,000 nurses and care workers shows 85% of care staff have to cope with fewer colleagues or work extra shifts.

‘Sometimes one person has to look after 81 patients, irresponsible’, wrote one of the respondents. Another said ‘I am afraid to make mistakes. At the end of a busy day I don’t know whether I may have forgotten something.’

Over three-quarters of the respondents said the lack of staff is directly influencing their health and personal lives while almost half said patient safety is at risk. One in ten people working in care is considering leaving the profession.

Make caring more attractive

Better pay, better basic contracts for young nurses and care staff, and less administrative and cleaning tasks are among the options nurses say will do much to make caring a more attractive career choice, V&VN claims.

‘It is very important that managers and administrators listen to what care workers have to say,’ V&VN director Sonja Kersten said. ‘The signals about work pressure are alarming. We are in dire need of new staff. But there are things that can be done now, such as giving people more financial security and improving people’s work schedules.’

According to the V&VN, an increasingly elderly population, changes in the care system and new quality norms in care home nursing mean some 125,000 care professionals will be needed up to 2025. This is on top of the thousands of vacancies already unfilled.