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More than 40% of wards 'understaffed', suggests study


Just over half of wards in England have nurse to patient ratios considered safe by nursing campaigners, suggests data revealed this week.  

A survey by the National Nursing Research Unit suggested 43% of wards had a ratio higher than the campaigner’s benchmark of eight patients to every registered nurse. Meanwhile 18% had one nurse for every 10 patients.

The research was led by the unit’s deputy director Jane Ball and involved 3,000 nurses working on 413 wards at 46 hospitals.

It was commissioned by The Times newspaper, which published the results on Wednesday.

The Safe Staffing Alliance issued a warning in May that patient care was unsafe on wards where nurses were looking after more than eight patients each, which it said was based on evidence from Southampton University and the NNRU, which is based at King’s College London.

The alliance includes the Royal College of Nursing, Unison, the Patients Association and a number of senior nurses.

Further research published by the NNRU in July found more than eight out of 10 hospital nurses had to leave care undone on their last shift because of staffing shortages.

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Readers' comments (3)

  • Try 14 to one, with one support worker

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  • I am a nurse of 35years and can see things from both sides. The staff and patients. My sister was in hospital recently and is very immobile due to rheumatoid arthritis and XXX. Due to staff shortage, particularly at night she was told there wasn't anyone available to help her to the toilet and "quote" to wee in her pad? How degrading is that?, but I understand from the staff dilemma who to make priority. I cannot tell you how much this upset her and our family. This staff shortage really needs to be addressed urgently. She has been in hospital since and needed help with personal care. As no one was available her daughter asked her carer from home to go in the wash her so nothing has changed despite our complaints.

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  • Not always down to staff shortage.
    Sometimes staffing is deemed so by the application of an Acuity tool.
    It seems one tool can be applied to all areas in a hospital!

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