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Exclusive: Forum challenges government over staffing levels


The prime minister’s nursing advisory group has called for the introduction of a minimum staffing level – a move placing them in direct opposition to government policy.

The forum has released a statement to Nursing Times ahead of the government’s full response to the Francis report on care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, which is expected next week.

In it the forum warns immediate action is needed on workforce shortages to “bridge the gap” while the NHS awaits the completion of government backed guidelines on staffing levels.

It emerged last week that the guidance, to be developed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, is not due to be ready till next July.

The development of guidance on staffing for different services by NICE was a key recommendation of the Francis report in February.

Nursing Times has learnt NICE will produce the first staffing guideline on acute adult in-patient wards. It will then look at staffing in other settings, including maternity, accident and emergency, community and mental health. NICE will also accredit existing tools for calculating staffing needs.

The Prime Minister’s Nursing and Care Quality Forum welcomed news that NICE had been commissioned to review the evidence on staffing levels, but said action was needed before next summer.

The forum called on the government to “take account” of the existing “scientific evidence that a ratio of more than eight patients per registered nurse significantly increases the risk of harm and constitutes a breach in patient safety”.

Forum chair Sally Brearley said: “We ask that [the government] consider this as being a potential way to bridge the gap in safe staffing while waiting for the [NICE] report into the validity and application of tools for safe staffing levels.”

Forum members include Professor Janice Stevens, managing director of Health Education West Midlands safety, and Elaine Inglesby-Burke, chief nurse at Salford Royal Foundation Trust and a member of this year’s Berwick review on patient.


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Readers' comments (6)

  • 1:8 is nowhere near enough!! Bad advice is not the way to counter a bad idea.

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  • yes please to minimal staffing level. I cannot believe that it is 2013 and we do not have it!

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  • At least the "Forum" is courageous in challenging the idiot "nurse leader" who believes in magic "C's" as a solution to the very real problems confronting real nurses ever day !

    Nurse staffing levels have been driven down by so called "nurse managers" .

    These clown "nurse managers" should, starting tomorrow, be returned to the wards where they can demonstrate their skills , knowledge , and expertise in caring for seriously sick people on badly understaffed wards and depts.

    Those of you who read my comments will know I have no respect for those who place patients at risk.

    Collect the evidence and ask the NMC to investigate these nurse managers who put patients at risk as a result of their incompetence.

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  • One RN to 8 to eight patients is just begging for trouble. I cannot be in 8 places at once, especially in single room nursing environments. I therfore cannot guarantee the safety of my patients. I can see another layer of paperwork being added to the wade I do now - incident reporting forms.

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  • Sorry - that typo should be wad of paperwork.

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  • As a newly qualified RN I find the idea of 1 nurse to 8 patients to be infinitely better than the 10 patients that I am currently expected to manage. I go home after each shift stressed and worried that I have missed something, I haven't written enough notes, I haven't had time to do the risk assessments properly and I've had to hand over basic tasks that I just did not have time to complete. If I had realised it would be like this I probably would never have done my training in the first place to be honest.

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