Caven blog

Care Quality Commission warning on NHS staffing levels

A story by the Telegraph published on Sunday reveals that, according to the Care Quality Commission (CQC), 26 NHS Healthcare Providers do not have enough staff ‘to keep people safe and meet their health and welfare needs’, which is the required standard of care for all parts of the health service.

The list of Healthcare Providers, situated throughout England, was compiled from the latest CQC inspections carried out as recently as November; it was obtained and made public by the Labour party.

In all, 17 NHS hospitals, the London Ambulance Service and eight mental health units were named as failing to have sufficient or appropriate staff.

Inspectors found that some patients, who were unable to communicate their needs, were forced to do without items such as drinks or warm clothing. Additionally, although staff were often busy, some did not seem to notice their patients’ discomfort.

The CQC was established under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 to regulate all health and adult social care services in England.

By law, all NHS providers must register with the CQC. If health providers fail to meet essential standards of quality and safety, putting patients at risk, the regulator has various enforcement powers at its disposal.

For example, the CQC can hand out fines and public warnings, close hospital wards and services or remove a service from its register; the Commission has issued warnings about staffing to all the failing Health Providers on this list.

Members of the public contact the CQC to make complaints about poor NHS care, although if they think a crime has been committed, the police should be contacted.

Employees in the Health Service can report concerns about matters such as staffing to the CQC in confidentiality; however, they would be wise to speak to a senior member of staff about matters first, and take into account their employer’s policy on ‘whistleblowing’.

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, commented: “Almost 7,000 nursing posts have been lost since David Cameron entered Downing Street. The public has a right to know if their local hospital is taking risks with staffing levels.”

However, the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, countered: “There can be no excuse for not providing appropriate staff levels when across the NHS generally there are now more clinical staff working than there were in May 2010, including nearly 5,000 more doctors and almost 900 extra midwives.”

While NHS organisations must do their utmost to provide excellent care and put patient safety first; this may prove difficult to achieve in the midst of budget cuts, as well as during the current system-wide re-organisation.

Enforcement from the CQC may help with problems caused by mismanagement; but frequent public criticism of the people who make up the NHS could also risk further demoralisation regarding the service.
Original story:

The Telegraph

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