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Are low numbers of staff “early warning signs” of poor patient care?

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Sir Bruce Keogh’s review, published earlier this month, into the high mortality rates at 14 trusts found that all these trusts were understaffed.

Following the review, the new director of the Care Quality Commission, Sir Mike Richards, told Nursing Times the regulator would not be monitoring staffing levels as part of its new hospital surveillance regime. Instead, the CQC would look at staffing levels as an “explanatory” factor if there was other evidence of poor care.

The Prime Minister’s Forum on Nursing and Care Quality has raised concerns over this stance and called on the CQC to take more notice of staffing levels, describing them as “early warning signs” for poor patient care and high mortality rates.

What do you think?

  • Should there be national minimum staffing levels? Would this take in to account level of need in different areas of nursing?
  • Are low numbers of staff “early warning signs” of poor patient care?
  • Why is the CQC reluctant to monitor staffing levels?
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