More than half the nursing workforce at the eight hospital trusts rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission have said there are not enough staff for them to do their job.

  • Exclusive data reveals the percentage of nurses at each trust who say there are not enough staff for them to their job properly
  • Ninety-seven out of 157 acute and specialist trusts have more than half of nurses saying there are not enough staff
  • Eight trusts rated “inadequate” by the CQC are all over 50 per cent on this measure

A subset of data, given exclusively to HSJ by the Picker Institute, from the most recent NHS staff survey shows that 52 per cent of adult registered nurses disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement: “There are enough staff at this organisation for me to do my job properly.”

Just over a quarter of the 33,329 adult general hospital nurses polled at the end of last year agreed or strongly agreed with the statement.

At the eight trusts currently rated “inadequate”, the percentage of nurses disagreeing ranged from 56.1 at East Sussex Healthcare Trust to 74.3 at Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust (see graph, below).

The news comes in the wake of a large scale national and international recruitment drives by trusts for registered nurses. A number of trusts have said this has been responsible for the increasing number of hospital trusts declaring deficits and the rising spend on agency staff.

The new data breaks a subset of the questions in the national staff survey down by staff group and trust, showing which organisations had the most and least under pressure nurses and senior doctors.

A spokesman for Colchester said: “The trust spent £63.8m on nursing and midwifery staff in 2014-15 compared with £60.5m the previous year, and we continue to pursue an aggressive nursing recruitment programme.

“Our focus is on recruiting locally and from EU countries, partly because of the long lead-in time between recruiting from non-EU countries and when they are able to start work.”

At University Hospitals Bristol FT – which was rated “requires improvement” by the CQC – 62.7 per cent of the 612 nurses surveyed disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement.

A trust spokesman said: “The results are disappointing, and the fact staff feel this way is a great concern to the trust. Since last autumn, in common with many other NHS trusts, we have had additional unplanned capacity open, which we know has had an impact on staff morale. However, the funded registered nurses establishment is above the minimum standards set by [National Institute for Health and Care Excellence] guidelines.” 

Nurses at Royal Brompton and Harefield FT, which has not yet been inspected under the new CQC system, were the most upbeat in England about the number of staff the organisation employed, with only 18.4 per cent disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with the statement.

The findings follow a survey released last week by the Royal College of Nursing, carried out in February by polling firm Ipsos MORI, which said 88 per cent of the public agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “We need many more nurses in hospitals to deliver safe care.”

NICE issued guidance in July that said hospitals employing staff on ratios of eight or more patients to one registered nurse on a “regular basis” could increase the risk of harm in adult inpatient wards. It suggested a 1:8 ratio should be a “red flag” incident requiring action by trusts.

Last month HSJ revealed that 85 per cent of hospitals missed their own target for the number of nurses working on their wards in daytime.