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Patients Association responds to Royal College of Nursing report on staffing numbers.

The Patients Association welcomes the Royal College of Nursing’s report on staffing levels and join their call for there to be a maximum ratio of patients to nurses particularly in elderly wards where patient needs are often much greater.

We urge nurses to sign up individually to the Care Campaign as a reminder of the essential minimums of care they should be providing at all times no matter how busy the wards are.  All patients should get assistance when they call for help, encouragement to eat and drink, assistance with going to the toilet, and have their pain addressed.

Our Helpline continues to be contacted by elderly patients and their relatives with terrible stories of very poor care. We have head from patients who have been left hungry and thirsty or left sitting in their own faeces and urine because there is nobody who has the time to help.

Responding to the Royal College of Nursing’s report, Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association said,

“Nurses need time to nurse. It cannot get any simpler than that. Yet year after year patients are subjected to poor care. The Patients Association receives thousands of calls and emails detailing distressingly poor care, with nurses repeatedly complaining to patients and relatives that wards are chronically short staffed.

“Although predictable, it saddens us that wards where older people are cared for have the lowest number of nurses. If this was happening in children’s wards there would be an outcry. Common sense tells us that older patients with complex needs, including personal care needs, will require a lot of time from staff. Yet still they continue to receive lacklustre care because of nursing shortages or the wrong balance of skills on the ward. We must make sure that staff have the time to meet patients’ needs. In particular, there have to be enough nurses on the wards to ensure that the fundamentals of care are never neglected.


1.       The Patients Association is a campaigning charity, listening to patients and speaking up for change. It has been working for nearly 50 years to make sure that the patient voice is heard and listened to by policy makers.

2.  The Patients Association launched the Care Campaign in November 2009. The Care campaign aims to drive improvements in patient care across the UK.

Care stands for:     C – communicate with compassion

A – assist with toileting, ensuring dignity

R – relieve pain effectively

E – encourage adequate nutrition

The Care Challenge is that as a minimum, all patients should get assistance when they call for help, encouragement to eat and drink, assistance with going to the toilet, and have their pain addressed

For more information please visit http://patients-association.com/Default.aspx?tabid=237

3.       For further information please contact the Patients Association on 02084239111 or on 07779004898 if outside of the hours 9-5.30pm.

4.       To see more information on the Patients Association care campaign visit www.patients-association.com

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