Student nurses left in charge of patients

Student nurses are being left in sole charge of patients during clinical placements, according to a survey by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

Student nurses left unsupervised
Student nurses left unsupervised

The survey, which is launched on Student's Day at the RCN's annual Congress in Harrogate, also showed that most students failed to report their concerns about being left in charge, often because they worried it could affect their marks.

More than 1,500 student nurses from across the UK were asked about their experiences during their clinical placements. Forty-four percent said they had been left unattended with patients without any warning and without a registered nurse or doctor present. Of those 93 per cent said it had happened more than once:

  • Eight out of ten (80.99 per cent) reported being left unsupervised on three or more occasions
  • Of the 553 first year students surveyed, 42 per cent said they had been left on their own
  • Fifteen per cent said they had witnessed adverse events while left unattended.

Dr Peter Carter, General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: 'This is yet another example of how deficits-driven cost cutting is compromising patient safety.

'Up and down the country, we are seeing nursing jobs being lost and posts being frozen and deleted to cut costs. That means those registered nurses left have to do ever more with even fewer resources. It also means they have even less time to devote to supporting the next generation of nurses during their clinical placements.'

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