NHS nursing care

October 11, 2011, 2:06 PM GMT+0

Over two fifths of the British public believe that nurses today are less caring and professional than they once were, our survey has revealed.

However, while our results indicate that there is concern among the public over perceived declining levels of patient care, among those who have actually experienced NHS nursing, more people said that they hadn’t suffered from poor care levels personally than said that they had.

  • 47% of British people believe that nurses are less caring today than they were in the past
  • 36% say that they see no difference between now and in the past
  • Compared to just 6% who disagree entirely that nurses are less caring today
  • 41% say that nurses are less professional today than in the past
  • Compared to just 17% who disagree, and 31% saying no difference

The results come in light of recent concerns that neglect and indifference remain genuine problems in the NHS, with some nurses accused of not providing basic standards of care.

However, our poll suggests that the problem could just be limited to public perception rather than based on any real experience. The survey results also show that people are unwilling to take a more active role in caring for relatives in hospital.

  • When we asked people if they had experienced poor levels of NHS nursing care in the past five years, 33% said that they never had, compared to 26% who said that they had – and 38% said they haven’t personally experienced NHS care in that timeframe
  • Opinion is split over the extent to which relatives should help with hospital care, with 43% who say relatives should play a greater part, compared to 45% who oppose the idea

‘Nurses must learn how to care’

The public does not simply condemn nurses themselves, with almost two thirds (61%) of people thinking that nursing degrees fall down by not equipping qualified trainees with enough practical experience. Three in five people (60%) agree with the statement that the NHS uses too many heathcare assistants than ‘properly trained nurses’, while 63% say that care assistants should carry out the ‘routine’ jobs, in order to free up more experienced nurses for more difficult tasks.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has recently addressed concerns, saying that care levels can be improved by increasing the regulation and training of healthcare assistants and the amount of contact time between nurses and patients.

However, pioneer of thinktank 2020health.org Julia Manning disagrees, and told the Daily Mail that ‘caring has to be personal’, while stressing that ‘the lack of compassion which we are currently criticising nurses for is not unique to their profession’. She continued ‘it’s a philosophical challenge to us all’, blaming the state of our current culture in the disregard for understanding patient care.

See the survey details and full results