MANY nurses feel they are too busy to give dying patients high-quality care, a new poll suggests.
Two-thirds of nurses from across the UK felt they were not given sufficient time to care for those nearing the end of their lives, it found.
The poll of almost 1,000 nurses and healthcare assistants, conducted by Nursing Standard and Marie Curie, also identified other barriers to providing high-quality care.
A third said there was a lack of specialist palliative care and 68% raised concerns about staffing levels.
More than half said they had seen patients die in hospital – despite wishing to die at home – because of a lack of care in the community.
“The findings show the challenges of providing high quality care to people towards the end of life in the extremely pressured NHS,” said Dee Sissons, director of nursing at Marie Curie, which has recently launched a free online resource for health and social care workers covering key aspects of palliative and end of life care.
“Whilst it is encouraging to see that many nurses feel confident about talking to patients about their needs and wishes, we can’t dispute the evidence that the majority of nurses don’t feel that they have time to provide high quality care to their dying patients.
“It is also worrying to see that many dying patients with limited time left are stuck unnecessarily in hospital due to delays in funding and community provision to support them.
“Caring for people at the end of life can be emotionally draining but also incredibly rewarding.
“To provide the best possible care for patients, staff must have the time to develop their skills and access appropriate and timely training and support from the very start.”
Graham Scott, editor for Nursing Standard, added: “The way we care for patients at the end of life is a barometer of the quality of care in the health sector as a whole.
“Nurses are telling us they are under immense strain and the service is reaching breaking point.
“The fact that vulnerable dying patients, and their families, are suffering as a result is a national disgrace.
“A first step towards addressing the problem must be to recruit more staff to free up nurses’ time so they can give the high quality care they so desperately want to give.”