UNISON comment on staff shortages at Singleton hospital

Responding to news a shortage of staff may lead to the temporary closure of a ward at Singleton hospital, Donna Hutton, UNISON Cymru head of health said,

“We need to know more about the reasons behind the shortage of nurses in this case but it’s clearly worrying when a hospital says it doesn’t have the staff necessary to keep a ward open.

“This episode shows why it is essential we properly invest in hospitals and in safe staff numbers. Nurses are afraid on a daily basis that too few staff on wards means patients only receive the most immediate care and not the assistance and comfort they deserve. Nursing is a physically and emotionally challenging job and short staffing issues mean the demands on you are increasing all the time.

“You can’t run an NHS by relying heavily on agency staff and the nurse bank. In contrast to Westminster, the Welsh government has protected the nursing bursary and invested in nursing places for the last few years but that has yet to reach fruition.

“You don’t need to scratch your head wondering why the nursing profession isn’t more attractive to potential new recruits. Healthcare workers in Wales have suffered seven years of poor pay awards as a direct result of UK Conservative government austerity policies and are worse off than 2009.

“The age profile of nurses is increasing and if you want to invest in the future workforce, ensure all healthcare workers feel valued and pay them appropriately. We want an immediate end to the pay cap.”


Notes to editors

In a February 2017 survey of nursing and midwifery members, UNISON found:

  • 78% of respondents in Wales do not feel that there are adequate staff numbers to deliver safe, dignified, compassionate care.
  • The top three factors for staff considering a change of career or employer are:
    – Having to compromise standards of work;
    – Unsafe staffing levels;
    – Stress at work.
  • 50% of respondents were unable to take full breaks during the surveyed shift.  Over 40% also reported working additional hours over those they were rostered for.  Whilst we would accept that there are always emergency situations that require attention, these types of events should not be the norm.