DOI: 10.1111/inm.13216 ISSN:

Analysis of a nursing survey: Reasons for compromised quality of care in inpatient mental health wards

Elissa Thompson, Michela Senek, Tony Ryan
  • Pshychiatric Mental Health


Current evidence suggests understaffing is related to poor quality and missed care in a global context, but this relationship is complex. There is also a research gap for quality in mental health care in the United Kingdom that includes a wider set of patient outcomes. This paper aims to investigate RMN's perception of quality of care on their last shift, their self‐reported reasons for compromised care and potential impact on patient outcomes. A mixed methods approach, we used descriptive statistics to create a framework within which to qualitatively analyse data from the 2017 Royal College of Nursing (RCN) employment survey to consider the complex relationship between understaffing and care quality. We established three themes: ‘Understaffing’, ‘Professional Code Expectations and Moral Distress’ and ‘Management’. In line with the current evidence; lack of resources and understaffing were consistently present throughout. Nurses also felt pressure from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) code of conduct which in turn instilled shame and fear for their registration when they were unable to achieve the standards expected. This was further exacerbated by poor management and supervision; leading nurses to reflect on poor outcomes for patients which compromised not only legal rights but safety of patients and staff alike. We conclude that focusing on staffing numbers alone is unlikely to improve care quality.

More from our Archive