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Saturday 22nd October 2016

Nurse shortage linked to deaths

25th October 2006

10072006_nursesstation1.jpgPatients in hospitals where there are shortages in nurses are more likely to die or suffer complications, according to a new study.

The research, published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies, found mortality was 26 per cent higher in hospitals with the worst staffing levels compared to those with the best.

Health services researchers at Kings College London found the patient-to-nurse ratios varied from 6.9 to 14.3 across the trusts they looked at. And patients in the hospitals where nurses had the highest workloads were more likely to suffer complications or die than those in hospitals with better staffing ratios.

The team looked at almost 120,000 patient records and compared them with information from 4,000 nurses from 30 hospital trusts in England between 1998/9. The research formed part of the International Hospital Outcomes Study which is a collaboration between America, Scotland, Germany, Canada and England.

They found 246 deaths could have been prevented in the 30 trusts, if they had better staffing levels, and suggest better patient-to-nurse ratios could save thousands of lives across the NHS.

Nurses working in hospitals with nurse shortages were also far more likely to be unsatisfied in their job and suffer ‘burn out’, the researchers said.

The Department of Health said nursing numbers had risen dramatically over the past nine years. There are an additional 89,000 nurses working in the NHS than there were in 1997.

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