RCN Warns ‘Corridor Care’ is Becoming Normal

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has found that providing care to hospital patients in corridors and other non-clinical areas is becoming a normal part of healthcare in the UK.

According to a survey of more than 1,000 members of the organisation’s Emergency Care Association, 73% of respondents admitted that they are providing care to patients in a non-designated clinical area at least once a day. A further 16% said they do so at least once a week. Just 5% said they never do.

It also found that 90% of emergency department nurses surveyed reported that the safety of patients is being compromised as a result.

Corridor nursing

The survey found that 90% of respondents said the term “corridor nursing” is now being used at their trust, with 49% of respondents saying it is being used formally. An additional 40% reported that the term is used informally.

Some 90% of respondents said the frequency of providing care in non-designated clinical environments has risen since last winter. Meanwhile, 69% said they now work in a hospital where nursing staff are deployed specifically to care for patients in non-designated clinical areas, such as corridors.

The survey respondents reported that this kind of care results in clinic practice becoming physically more difficult – pointing to activities such as providing intravenous medication – with 90% agreeing. Some 93% said it makes it difficult to monitor patients, while 95% said patient confidentiality, privacy and dignity is compromised.

Patient flow

The RCN said it “does not support corridor nursing nor the provision of any care in a non-designated clinical area”. It explained that any aspect of corridor care is indicative of “patient flow” in the whole hospital setting, rather than the care emergency departments are trying to provide.

David Smith, chair of the RCN’s Emergency Care Association and A&E nurse, said: “As specialist emergency nurses, we are in a privileged position, as we care for people when they need help most. But we’re starting to see more and more care delivered in completely unsuitable locations, as this survey shows.  

“The responses reveal how demoralised nursing staff feel about working in these conditions – they are simply not sustainable and could deter future nurses from embarking on this unique and rewarding career.”

The RCN highlighted that the country’s shortage of nursing staff is contributing to problems with the flow in and out of emergency departments.

Health equity

UK healthcare is currently receiving significant attention. In the wake of the revelation that life expectancy in the UK is stalling – and for some members of the population has fallen – the country’s main healthcare faculties and colleges have written to the prime minister, asking the government to take action.

They are urging Boris Johnson and his cabinet to take heed of the recommendations made in the ‘Health Equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 years on’ report. The Health Foundation, which commissioned the report, pointed to areas needing immediate investment as child and in-work poverty, the public health grant to local authorities and children’s services, such as Sure Start.

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