Sleeping on the job and incompetent: Complaints about nurses double in just two years
Almost 3,000 grievances were lodged last year concerning staff who had fallen asleep on the job, lacked competence or were neglecting the basic care of their patients.
This is up 70 per cent on 2008-09 when there were 1,759 complaints, and almost twice as many as in 2007-08 when there were 1,478, according to figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
These incidents represent the most serious of all complaints, which can lead to a nurse being suspended or even permanently struck off the register and never allowed to work again.
However, the figures are just the tip of the iceberg as most complaints are handled internally by hospitals or care homes who then decide whether staff should face disciplinary action.
The sharp rise, attributed mainly to overstretched nurses on busy wards, comes amid mounting concern that the NHS is failing to provide the most basic standards of care.
Frail, elderly patients are being effectively left to starve on wards as staff are too busy to help them with meals. Only last month a damning report by the Health Service Ombudsman warned that the NHS was failing to treat those in old age with ‘care, dignity and respect’, citing cases of patients left in soiled clothes held up by paper clips.
These failings were highlighted again last week when a review by the Care Quality Commission watchdog found elderly patients with dementia were being locked in rooms overnight in hospitals and care homes, so they didn’t wander.
Figures show that 2,988 cases were referred to the NMC in 2009-10, believed to be the highest number on record.
Health groups say the rise in complaints is almost certainly caused by a ‘systematic failure’ across the NHS, with redundancies meaning those nurses left on the wards are overstretched.
The largest source of complaints was ‘dishonesty’, comprising 16 per cent of the total, a category which also includes falling asleep on duty or falsely claiming to have nursing qualifications. Almost 13 per cent were due to lack of competence, 8 per cent for giving out the wrong dose of drugs and 8 per cent for lack of basic care. Just over 5 per cent were for drink and drugs offences and 2 per cent for physical and verbal abuse. More than half of the cases lodged with the NMC concerned nurses working on the NHS, in hospitals or visiting at home, and a fifth arose in care homes.
The remainder concerned staff employed by private agencies or prisons. The rise in complaints is in tandem with statistics showing that overall grievances lodged against NHS staff have also reached record levels.
Last year more than 100,000 written complaints were made concerning all staff working in the NHS, not just nurses, a 13 per cent rise compared with the previous year.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said the increase in referrals ‘should be looked at closely’. He added: ‘However, with a workforce of over 600,000, this is still a very small proportion of registered nurses.’
Dr John Lister of campaign group Health Emergency said: ‘A lot of the rank and file nurses are referred to the NMC, but not the managers who are responsible for them being unable to provide high quality of care. ‘Nurses who are short-staffed aren’t going to be able to make sure patients are properly fed and they may be too tired to work out the right drugs doses.’
At the end of last year the Mail launched a joint campaign with the Patients Association calling for elderly patients to be treated with more dignity and respect.
With the help of our generous readers we were able to raise £100,000 to help the Patients Association man a dedicated helpline to assist with the rising number of complaints.
British schools should be ranked by number of pupils getting degrees?
Schools could be ranked by the number of pupils gaining university degrees under Coalition plans to drive up education standards
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, published plans which would see many work-related qualifications scrapped in favour of a new system in which employers play a much greater role. New-style league tables are to be created showing how many children at each state secondary go on to graduate with an honours degree.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said the move would encourage schools to make pupils “university-ready” and ensure they are given decent advice to pick the correct courses.
The move comes as part of a wider overhaul of the way state schools in England are measured. It comes just weeks after an independent review claimed more than a quarter of children were currently pushed onto worthless college courses that add little or nothing to their long-term careers. According to figures, around a third of students at some universities also drop out of courses after less than year.
Mr Gove’s comments were made during a fact-finding visit to New York last week to tour high-performing “charter schools” – state funded institutions free of Government control. He praised one chain, the Harlem Children’s Zone, a community project that tracks children’s health, education and welfare from birth to their early 20s.
New York’s education department is considering adding pupils’ future university and employment data to its own “report card” issued to each school every year. “It has absolute merit,” said Mr Gove. “I know some people might say, how can I be held accountable for what happens in an institution over which I have no control?
“But, if you have educated someone to the age of 18 sufficiently well, and if you give them the right guidance so they make the right choices, then the chances are that they will find the right courses and succeed.”
Adventures in government lunacy
Adventures in government stupidity are of course nothing new: but to raising the bar to sheer howling lunacy is more unusual. Even that toxic brew of special interests, bureaucrats and politicians rarely produce something that is outright insane. Rarely, but not never:
Local authorities will put up the deposit to allow first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder, under a scheme unveiled today. The organisation behind the ‘local lend a hand’ initiative, Capita business Sector Treasury Services, says it will free up social and affordable housing by making it easier for people to buy their own homes. The initiative is initially being backed by Lloyds TSB, and has been piloted by five local authorities, but Capita hopes to get more lenders and councils on board as the scheme progresses.
The local authorities will lodge funds with the lender to cover the shortfall in a first-time buyer’s deposit. This can be up to 20 per cent of the mortgage, so for a typical 75 per cent loan to value mortgage, the buyer would only need to find a 5 per cent deposit. Available funds in each area will be capped, although the council shouldn’t incur any actual costs unless there are problems with the mortgage repayments.
So let us try and get this straight. The world’s entire financial system is still reeling from its recent effort to walk straight off a cliff by lending money to people to buy houses they couldn’t afford. This lesson having been learned, said financial houses no longer being willing to lend to people without a substantial deposit, showing that they’ve some skin in the game, that you don’t lend hundreds of thousands to people who have bupkiss, we now have the following bright political solution?
The taxpayers should subsidise these deposits so that when (no, not if) something goes wrong in the future the taxpayers have to pick up the bill? That, having seen what people buying houses they cannot afford does, we should insist that more people should buy houses they cannot afford?
This, this, is why we send our finest minds to Oxbridge so that they may rule over us all? Somewhere up there the Goddess of Irony is weeping bitter tears into her nectar as not even she had thought of that one.
Look, it’s terribly, terribly, simple. If local councils want local houses to be cheaper they should grant planning permission for more local houses. Supply and demand really does work you know and it is the planning permission itself which is the most expensive part of a house these days. No, not the land, not the building, but the chitty allowing you to build on that land. The council even makes a profit issuing permissions rather than losses on paying people’s deposits.
With ideas at the above level of stupidity I fully expect both Ed Balls and George Osborne to announce next week that the way to close the deficit is to make cucumbers from Moonlight.