Vulnerable patients cared for in secure mental health units across England could miss out on vital medications due to a shortage of learning disability nurses, the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) has warned.
The report into medication omissions in learning disability secure units across the country highlights problems with retaining learning disability nurses, with the number recruited each year matching those leaving.
Figures quoted in the report suggest the number of learning disability nurses in the NHS nearly halved from 5,500 in 2016 to 3,000 in 2020.
The HSIB launched a national investigation after being alerted to the case of Luke, who spent time in NHS secure learning disability units but was not administered prescribed medication for diabetes and high cholesterol on several occasions.
At Luke’s facility, which included low and medium secure wards, HSIB investigators considered that the quality and style of care provided to patients had been directly impacted by a lack of nurses with required skill sets.
Findings from HSIB’s wider national investigation link a shortfall of learning disability nurses to instances of patients missing their medication, with the report’s authors describing a “system in which medicines omissions were too common and prevention, identification and escalation processes were not robust”.
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Source: HSJ, 23 June 2022