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Recommendations for 'safe' levels of nursing produced

12th May 2014

Ministers promised to pursue safe staffing levels following the public inquiry into the Stafford Hospital scandal.

hospice1A resulting inquest from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has developed into a draft of NHS guidelines.

It suggests that patients are at risk of harm if a nurse has to care for more than eight people on a ward during the day. It also notes that if such a situation was to occur, the hospital should be able to explain why.

Although NICE did not want to enforce any further rules, it felt guidelines should be there to give patients the assistance they need.


Deputy chief executive of NICE, Prof Gillian Leng, said there was no "magic number" for staffing and that decisions about the number of nursing staff should "allow flexibility on a day-to-day or shift-by-shift basis".



Currently, individual hospitals are allowed to set their own nurse staffing levels. Many hospitals have already started paying close attention to nurse numbers and are trying to give a greater sense of transparency by publicly displaying actual staffing levels on wards along with what they should be.

NHS England wants this to become routine across the health service, while later this year hospitals will have to submit their staffing levels each month so they can be displayed on the NHS Choices website.

The guidance recommends nurses raise the alarm when care is compromised, no matter what ratio.

 That could include situations where there are not enough staff to help patients use the toilet, monitor their vital signs or administer medication.

The Department of Health said the number of front-line staff had risen.

"We have increased the NHS budget in real terms and are clear that hospitals must balance their books whilst ensuring compassionate, quality care for all. We know this can and is being done," he said. 

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Comments

Anonymous

Saturday 24th May 2014 @ 20:23

The lesser burdened nurses will now be able to give far better care. A laudable step indeed.


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