Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has acknowledged it is impossible to deliver safe care without adequate numbers of staff. However, he has confirmed the government will not be introducing a minimum safe staffing level.
Responding to the Francis report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust this lunchtime, Mr Hunt highlighted the new requirement for trusts to publish staffing levels on their wards, as revealed by Nursing Times.
He said the government recognised it was not possible to deliver good care without safe staffing levels and had looked carefully at the evidence for introducing a minimum staffing level from the centre but had decided the numbers were different for different wards.
Mr Hunt said Robert Francis QC’s report and the actions that will follow it would be “completely transformational in terms of its impact on the NHS”.
“There’s a real sense of the culture of the NHS beginning to change,” he added.
The response also stopped short of telling hospitals that ward sisters must be always be supervisory and rejected outright recommendations relating to the regulation of healthcare assistants.
Mr Hunt said the need for regulation would be addressed through plans for a compulsory care certificate for HCAs and to ensure hospitals used the existing disclosure and barring scheme for HCAs found to be unsuitable to work with patients.
Chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings said new guidance from the National Quality Board would help organisations set their own safe staffing levels.
She also highlighted plans to improve the way NHS learns from complaints through quarterly reporting and a focus on common themes rather than just numbers.
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