Nurse numbers inadequate for the care of patients following stroke By Alistair Kleebauer @alistairbauer Fewer than one third of hospitals has the required number of nurses on duty to care for stroke patients at weekends, a report reveals. Guidance from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) recommends having three registered nurses on duty at all times during the day for every ten stroke beds. But research carried out by the college found that only 50 out of 183 hospitals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – 27 per cent – achieved this figure at 10am at weekends. The Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme (SSNAP) report found 44 per cent have fewer than two nurses per ten stroke beds on duty at 10am at the weekend, while 28 per cent have 2 to 2.9 nurses. The findings follow a study earlier this year by King’s College London that found the mortality risk for patients admitted to stroke units at the

weekend increased as the number of nurses per ten beds decreased. Caroline Watkins, the UK’s only nursing professor of stroke care, said there is likely to be a need for more than three nurses per ten beds when patients are in the first 72 hours after a stroke. She said: ‘It might take two to three staff members to get the patient to the toilet. You have to think the patient needs an awful lot more support doing things than other patients do.’

‘THESE PATIENTS NEED MUCH MORE SUPPORT THAN OTHERS’ Higher staffing ratios also allow nurses to get more training in stroke care, added Professor Watkins, who works at the University of Central Lancashire. She said: ‘If you have more staff, people can work alongside each other and learn how to apply their knowledge in practice.’ The RCP audit looked at 74,307 records for patients admitted

following stroke between April 2013 and March 2014. It found average staffing levels for nurses and care assistants on stroke units have increased from a median of eight per ten stroke unit beds in 2012 to nine in 2014 but concluded this may still not be enough. In the report, NHS England national clinical director for stroke Anthony Rudd said nurse-to-patient ratios may have to be made higher to reduce death rates. Responding to the SSNAP report, RCN general secretary Peter Carter said the lack of nursing staff is having an unacceptable effect on stroke care and called for greater investment in the nursing workforce. ‘There is overwhelming evidence the number of registered nurses on a ward is strongly linked to stroke patients’ outcomes,’ he added. ‘If a hospital has enough nurses in place, stroke patients are more likely to survive and to recover.’ To read the SSNAP report, go to

Staff front trust’s campaign to keep hands clean Nurses are taking a starring role in a hand hygiene campaign at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust in London. The Clean Hands Saves Lives campaign involved 30 trust staff, including nurses and midwives. They appear on posters to remind staff to clean their hands thoroughly to minimise the spread of healthcare-acquired infections. Claire Champion, director of nursing and clinical services, said: ‘Good hand hygiene is a simple thing that can really save lives.’ Around 300,000 patients develop infections in the care of the NHS every year. 10 december 10from :: 29 no 15by:: ${individualUser.displayName} 2014 STANDARD Downloaded on Nov 24, 2015. For personal use only. NoNURSING other uses without permission. Copyright © 2015 RCNi Ltd. All rights reserved.

Nurse numbers inadequate for the care of patients following stroke.

Fewer than one third of hospitals has the required number of nurses on duty to care for stroke patients at weekends, a report reveals...
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