Safe staffing levels at heart of patient safety

UNISON has backed calls for greater transparency and reporting in the NHS but warned that we have to constantly make data easier for patients & staff to understand on websites,  so that they can have trust and confidence in them.

UNISON Head of Nursing, Gail Adams, said:

“The Government is deflecting attention away from underfunding which is the central problem facing the NHS today.  The key to driving up standards is safe staff to patient ratios and that means investing in those staff.  The NHS is under enormous strain and the fact that Government still seems to believe that the service can improve and save money at the same time is placing too much pressure on staff and the NHS.

“What patients need to know now & be confident in is that they are being cared for in an organisation which is putting patient care first.  That means not constantly trying to juggle the ever more difficult job of – do we focus on patients or balance the books?  They need to be cared for in a timely manner and the service needs to respect and value its workforce.   Time and time again research tells us that well-motivated staff with high morale deliver good patient care.   Government interference in their pay award this year will do nothing to improve staff morale across the NHS.  UNISON believes that setting minimum nurse to patient ratios is needed now.

“Asking Robert Francis to head up an Inquiry into whistleblowing is one way of tackling a culture of fear that still exists in some parts of the NHS, but urgent action is needed now.   UNISON is already running a Be Safe campaign working with employers. It involves training staff on how to report concerns when they have them and be confident in doing so.  We need action to ensure that staff know how to raise concerns about patient safety so they can be dealt with urgently.  Again, whistleblowers need help and support, but if we need whistleblowers, something has already gone wrong.  Prevention is better than cure.”

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