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Nurses say wards are seriously understaffed

4th February 2013

Fears have been raised over the level of nursing cover on NHS wards and hospital units.

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In a survey conducted by Nursing Times, some 57% of nurses who responded said that their wards were sometimes, or always, “dangerously understaff” while three-quarters said they had witnessed poor care over the past year.

Almost 600 readers of the journal were polled on subjects ranging from staffing to patient safety and NHS culture.

Some 85% of those who worked on general wards said the patient to nurse ratio was eight or more to one, and 44% said the ratio was 10 or more to one.

The Royal College of Nursing said such ratio levels were unacceptable and called for clear national guidelines on safe staffing levels.

Head of policy Howard Catton: “One registered nurse to eight patients is getting into very risky territory, it should be around one in five.”

He said cutting nurses will have a negative impact on the quality of care and could even lead to untimely deaths.

Joyce Robins, co-director of Patient Concern, said the workload of nurses was continually rising but staffing levels had not increased to cope.

“You hear all these stories that nurses don’t care anymore but really it’s that nurses can’t care because they don’t have time because there aren’t enough of them,” she said.

Nursing Times editor Jenni Middleton said morale was very low amongst nurses.

The findings come ahead of the publication of the Francis report into care failings at the Mid Staffs Trust.

 

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