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NHS Minimum Staffing Levels

Friday, August 9, 2013

GMB Call For Reasonable And Agreed Minimum Staffing Levels At East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust In Wake Of Berwick Report

GMB Welcomes Berwick View That “NHS Staff Are Not To Blame – In The Vast Majority Of Cases It Is Systems, Procedures, Conditions, Environment And Constraints They Face That Lead To Patient Safety Problems"

GMB, the union for staff at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS trust, commented on media reports around the recent report by Professor Don Berwick on improving patient safety. See notes to editors for story in local press.

Ray Carrick, GMB Regional Officer, said "The fundamental issue that has to be grasped is that patient care can only be significantly improved by having reasonable and agreed minimum staffing levels.

It should be noted that minimum does not translate as the standard level of cover, the standard level of cover should always be higher.  If we continue to try and run wards and departments on the basis of too few staff at any given time then we will almost inevitably see re-occurrences of incidents of poorer care.

It is unreasonable to expect NHS staff to be able to work miracles when they are not given the proper resources to carry out their role.

It is therefore disappointing that this report has not recommended minimum staffing levels but to a great many NHS staff this will come as no surprise. 

In order to ensure minimum staffing levels there has to be a general funding commitment to the NHS and clearly with the coalition government's £20bn cuts in the NHS it was never likely that they would reverse this process and start investing in things like minimum staffing levels. 

This is yet another opportunity missed to improve the quality of care and yet another nail in the coffin of the NHS by those who seek to undermine it in order to enable private companies to take over much of its role.

Don Berwick in his report says that from the government down, leaders must abandon blame and "trust the goodwill and good intentions of staff" in the health service.

Berwick went on to say "NHS staff are not to blame – in the vast majority of cases it is systems, procedures, conditions, environment and constraints they face that lead to patient safety problems," GMB agrees and welcomes this statement.”


Contact Ray Carrick 07974 018 412 or 0151 727 0077

Notes to Editors

Report in Lancashire Telegraph

East Lancashire patient group says NHS culture change does not go far enough

Wednesday 7th August 2013 in News By Lawrence Dunhill, Health reporter

RECOMMENDATIONS for a major culture change within the NHS do not go far enough, according to a patient representative.

Professor Don Berwick, a former advisor to US president Barack Obama, who was tasked to conduct a root-and-branch review of English hospitals, yesterday set out a series of measures to improve patient safety.

His report called for criminal sanctions for staff who wilfully neglect patients and a new culture of openness and transparency.

But he stopped short of including a duty of candour, which would compel staff to inform patients.

Russ McLean, chair of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, said: “We welcome the report from Professor Berwick, but don’t think he has gone far enough. We would have liked to have seen a duty of candour, to disclose mistakes where mistakes have been made.

“We all know from the Keogh Report that East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust [ELHT] are understaffed and we would welcome the setting of a minimum staffing level, though quite who would pay for that is another worry.

“We will be working closely with all those tasked with local healthcare provision, and striving to ensure that a culture which promotes openness and transparency amongst staff is the norm and not the exception.”

Ian Stanley, deputy medical director at the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals, said: “We feel very strongly that by encouraging the reporting of mistakes we will be able to develop our systems to be safer and to plan how we support and develop our staff to minimise the impact of any mistakes made.”

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