Hospitals are having to redeploy nurses from wards to look after queues of patients in corridors, in a growing trend that has raised concerns about patient safety.
Many hospitals have become so overcrowded that they are being forced to tell nurses to spend part of their shift working as “corridor nurses” to look after patients who are waiting for a bed.
The disclosure of the rise in corridor nurses comes days after the NHS in England posted its worst-ever performance figures against the four-hour target for A&E care. They showed that last month almost 100,000 patients waited at least four hours and sometimes up to 12 or more on a trolley while hospital staff found them a bed on the ward appropriate for their condition.
“Corridor nursing is happening across the NHS in England and certainly in scores of hospitals. It’s very worrying to see this,” said Dave Smith, the Chair of the Royal College of Nursing’s Emergency Care Association, which represents nurses in A&E units across the UK. "Having to provide care to patients in corridors and on trolleys in overcrowded emergency departments is not just undignified for patients, it’s also often unsafe.”
A nurse in south-west England told the Guardian newspaper how nurses feared the redeployments were leaving specialist wards too short of staff, and patients without pain relief and other medication. Some wards were “dangerously understaffed” as a result, she claimed.
She said: “Many nurses, including myself, dread going into work in case we’re pulled from our own patients to then care for a number of people in the queue, which is clearly unsafe. We’re being asked to choose between the safety of our patients on the wards and those in the queue."
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Source: The Guardian, 12 January 2020