NHS patients are being put at risk by unqualified nurses who are left in charge of hospital wards, whistleblowers have warned.
Worried British nurses have revealed that their overseas-trained counterparts have been asked to carry out critical duties which they are not supposed to do on both NHS and private wards, the Daily Mail reported.
Insiders – who wished to remain anonymous – are saying unqualified nurses are being allowed to do tasks such as handing out drugs and changing intravenous insulin levels for diabetic patients.
The Royal College of Nursing have described the testimony as ‘deeply worrying’.
The NHS relies on thousands of overseas nurses to boost its workforce and to carry out less clinical tasks. But hospitals buckling under financial pressure are choosing to deploy them in more senior roles because they’re cheaper than qualified agency nurses, the whistleblowers allege.
‘Carol’ said Filipino nurses who had moved to Britain in the past few months were employed as Band 4 healthcare assistants, but are expected to work as Band 5 nurses at Lewisham Hospital in South London.
They are doing medication and IVs [intravenous drips] –things they shouldn’t be doing. When we raise it we are told they’ve got eight years’ experience in their home country, and have been qualified there for ages. But they’re not yet qualified here.
Another nurse, ‘Kate’, claimed paying clients on Charing Cross Hospital’s Private Patient Unit were usually getting health care assistants instead of nurses. This was even happening with tracheotomy patients- those who had a breathing tube inserted in the neck. If saliva gets stuck in the tube it can have fatal consequences.
So far there hasn’t been a patient that’s deteriorated to the point of death, but there has been a time when a patient has gone into cardiac arrest. I’m not happy with the things I’ve witnessed – patients aren’t safe.
Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust deny the allegations.