Nurses have warned that patients are being admitted to inappropriate wards in order to meet a UK government target.
They say that the aim of treating people in accident & emergency (A&E) within four hours is forcing nurses to move patients out of emergency care and into other areas of hospitals.
This means patients with complex needs can be put in units acting as a “staging post” while beds become available in more suitable wards.
Rabina Tindale, a senior lead A&E nurse and chair of the RCN’s emergency care association, said peak times have the “biggest impact” on moving patients around.
Giving examples of the kinds of patients who are moved, she said: “For a patient admitted after a stroke, because there is no bed in the stroke unit they might be admitted to the medical assessment unit.
“Surgical patients have been admitted to an orthopaedic ward or a gynaecological ward to give them that time for when a bed becomes available.
“Although the nurses can care for them, they do not have that specialist experience.”
She said the Royal College of Nursing is now calling for a 3% reduction in the target, so that 95% of patients are treated within four hours instead of the current aim of 98%.
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“I recently worked as bank on an NHS ward taking charge on night shift, had to constantly move patients in the middle of the night, admitting and transferring patients from casualty to inappropriate wards. It was demoralising. Having to disturb the patient to be transferred and disturbing other patients at night. What can we say? We do the best we can under the circumstances.” – L Shea, Surrey, UK
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