Seven out of ten nurses surveyed say they look after patients in “non-designated” areas such as corridors every day.
A&E departments across the country are becoming so overcrowded that an increasing number of patients are being treated in hospital corridors, doctors and nurses have warned.
A survey of Royal College Of Nursing (RCN) members found that 73% of respondents said they looked after patients in a “non-designated area” of the hospital every day, with a further 16% saying they did so at least once a week. 90% of the union members said they feared patient safety was being put at risk because those needing treatment are having to spend time in areas of hospitals that do not have medical equipment or call bells.
Nursing staff say they have had difficulty administering urgent doses of antibiotics intravenously to patients in corridors and other areas not suited to treatment, while some patients have been left in distress as they are denied privacy while on a bed in a busy corridor.
NHS bosses have responded to say they believe the RCN’s findings, which are based on a self-selecting sample of nurses working within A&E, exaggerates the scale of the issue.
Dr Katherine Henderson, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said:
“We fully recognise these findings from our nursing colleagues.
“It is shameful that corridor care has become the norm and this survey reflects the reality emergency department staff experience on a daily basis.
“Corridor care is terrible for patients and demoralising for staff, who through no fault of their own have nowhere to admit patients to.”
Mike Adams, the RCN union’s director for England, said of the findings:
“Highly complex procedures such as insertion of intravenous lines and medication should not have to be carried out in conditions like these, while it is completely unacceptable that patients’ privacy and dignity are being undermined by lack of access to toilet facilities while they’re stuck in corridors.”
Mr Adams went on to say that incidents of “corridor nursing” are increasing because hospitals do not have enough staff or beds for patients, and “inadequate” social care is exacerbating the problem.
Responding to the RCN’s findings, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said:
“These are shocking findings revealing the scale of pressure nurses are working under after years of austerity and bed cuts in the NHS.
“Patients simply are denied the quality, safe care they deserve thanks to funding decisions made by Tory ministers.”
In releasing the survey findings, the Royal College of Nursing said it “does not support corridor nursing nor the provision of any care in a non-designated clinical area.”
The RCN is currently running a campaign on safe nurse staffing across the UK and is calling for further investment by the government and NHS leaders into the nursing workforce. This includes campaigning for the restoration of payments for tuition fees for student nurses, and for maintenance grants to be increased to sufficiently cover the real-world living costs of student nurses.