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Corridor Care’ Becoming ‘Normalised’ And Is Major Threat To Patient Safety

Every day in Scotland patients are being cared for in corridors and other inappropriate settings and left without access to essential equipment and facilities, it is revealed today (Monday 3 June) in a new report from the Royal College of Nursing.

Treatment like this in inappropriate settings can last for extended periods, sometimes even days. The RCN says these must now be determined as ‘Never Events’ in NHS services in the same way as having the wrong limb operated on or a foreign object left inside a patient’s body.

The nursing union is also asking for mandatory national reporting of patients cared for in corridors to reveal the extent of hospital overcrowding as part of a plan to eradicate the practice.

The new report is based on responses to a UK-wide survey of frontline nursing staff, including over 1,400 in Scotland. It shows the extent to which corridor care has become normalised. When asked about their most recent shift, more than one in three (38%) nursing staff working in typical hospital settings report delivering care in an inappropriate setting, such as a corridor.

Of those being forced to deliver care in inappropriate settings, over half (58%) say it left them without access to life-saving equipment including oxygen and suction. Seven in ten (71%) said the care they delivered in public compromised patient privacy and dignity.

The situation is so grave that NHS boards and Scottish government ministers should be forced to disclose the number of instances of care delivered in inappropriate settings, including corridors.

The findings and testimonies are published in ‘Corridor Care: unsafe, undignified, unacceptable’, alongside the College’s UK general election manifesto. Both call for corridor care to be eradicated from health and care settings.

Nursing staff report how corridor care has become the norm in almost every corner of a typical hospital setting. Heavy patient flow and lack of capacity sees nursing staff left with no space to place patients. What would have been an emergency measure is now routine.

Colin Poolman, RCN Scotland Executive Director, said:
“It’s entirely unacceptable for patients that their care is being compromised by it so often taking place in an inappropriate setting. And it’s entirely unacceptable for nursing staff that their clinical skills and commitment to providing safe and effective care is being undermined by a situation that, worryingly, is becoming normalised.”

“The Scottish government and NHS boards need to eradicate this problem by tackling the nursing workforce crisis in hospital, community and social care services, understanding the ‘true’ demand on our services and get bed numbers and services right, and work out how to unlock additional clinical spaces including by dealing with maintenance backlogs.”

At the start of the RCN’s annual conference, Professor Nicola Ranger will say ‘the horror of this situation cannot be understated’ and declare a UK ‘national emergency for patient safety’ to over 3,000 nurses.

Professor Ranger will say:
“This is about honesty and accountability. Care being delivered in front of a fire exit isn’t care. Signing do not resuscitate orders in a corridor isn’t care. Receiving a cancer diagnosis in a public area isn’t care. It’s a nightmare for all involved. We need to call it out as nursing staff, and health leaders and ministers need to take responsibility.”

 

 
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