RCN finds staff shortages hitting mental health care

The Royal College of Nursing has revealed mental health care is being compromised by low staffing levels among nurses with many not having time to use the therapy skills they have learned.
Less than one in three mental health nurses believed there were enough staff in hospital and community settings to provide a good standard of care, the RCN survey found.
More than 60% of respondents felt their workload was too heavy and the ratio of registered to non-registered nursing staff was lower in mental health wards than NHS wards as a whole. Almost three-quarters of nurses told the RCN that a recruitment freeze and posts left unfilled had been imposed in their work area over the past 12 months.
Just over four in 10 mental health nurses said they had skills they were unable to make use of in their current role, with nearly two-thirds of these citing unused psychological therapy skills. The most common reason given for not using their skills was lack of time, the Royal College of Nursing found.
Rethink director of public affairs Paul Corry said the report confirmed that mental health services had been seen as a soft target during the recent round of NHS cutbacks.
“It is particularly frustrating to learn that nurses are not able to deliver the kind of care they are trained for, particularly in providing psychological therapies. We know these kinds of talking therapies could make a huge difference to the lives of people with severe mental illness, but people can wait years to get them,” he added.
This week, the Department of Health announced the location of 11 new talking therapy pilot sites, to add to the existing trial projects in Doncaster and Newham, east London.

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