11 May 2015
Patient Safety at Risk due to Unqualified Staff
The Care Quality Commission has identified that Mid Essex Hospitals have been employing unqualified nursing staff in emergency units.
Following an inspection in February, it was found that untrained personnel have been providing care in departments such as specialist burns, medical care, surgery, critical care, maternity and gynaecology, services for children and young people, end of life care and outpatients and diagnostic imaging.
The findings led the Care Quality Commission to raise serious concerns and request immediate action to improve patient care and leadership at the Trust. This comes shortly after a separate BBC investigation identified that patient welfare is being put at risk across hospitals in East Anglia, as untrained healthcare staff were being put in unsupervised roles.
The BBC investigation revealed that healthcare staff were undertaking complex procedures that they had not been trained for, and which could adversely affect patient safety.
The Royal College of Nurses (RCN) highlighted that this was due to a lack of trained nurses, putting both patients and the healthcare staff at risk.
The 2013 Cavendish Review, in the wake of the Francis Inquiry regarding Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust failures, concluded that training for healthcare staff was "neither sufficiently consistent, nor sufficiently supervised" and it appears that both the Care Quality Commission and BBC investigations mirror such ongoing concerns.
With each sequential independent investigation highlighting the risks that patients can, and are, being exposed to, lessons have to be learned to protect and improve quality standards.
The NHS can be a world leader in providing treatment but, given the repeated risk issues that are arising at institutions, we are calling for the NHS to demonstrate nationally how patient safety is improving to demonstrate effective risk management and improved services.
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