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Tories call for nurse numbers to be displayed outside Scottish wards


Every hospital ward in Scotland should display the number of nurses on duty at any given time in the same way as was introduced in England last year, according to the Scottish Conservatives.

The Scottish Tories said they hoped the introduction of “real time” information on the ratio of nurses to patients would help to provide greater transparency in the NHS.

The move would follow the introduction of such a system in English hospitals last year, as part of the response to the Francis report into the former Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

Nursing failures were also highlighted in the recent Vale of Leven Hospital inquiry, the party noted.

“I have written to the health secretary to urge all NHS boards across Scotland to display the number of nurses on duty in wards in hospitals to be displayed along with a central contact for complaints”

Nanette Milne

But in contrast to the coalition government in England, the party said it believed there should be a minimum number of nurses on duty to maintain high standards of patient care, especially at night and the weekends.

It cited campaign group the Safe Staffing Alliance’s view that there should be a minimum of one nurse for every eight patients.

The party also said it was “demanding” that a central point of contact and name for complaints should also be posted on wards.

Dr Nanette Milne MSP, Scottish Conservative public health spokeswoman, has written to new Scottish health secretary Shona Robison, urging her to introduce the changes to the NHS frontline.

Dr Milne said: “The ratio of nurses to patients on our hospital wards is vital to ensure high standards of care. One way of maintaining this would be to display ‘real time’ information on the number of nurses on duty at any given time.

She added: “This would provide reassurances to those being treated by the NHS that staffing levels are adequate. This was a major issue at Stafford Hospital and we must do everything possible to prevent a similar scandal in Scotland.”

“I have written to the health secretary to urge all NHS boards across Scotland to display the number of nurses on duty in wards in hospitals to be displayed along with a central contact for complaints,” said Dr Milne.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “A number of boards within NHS Scotland are already trialling the prominent display of nursing numbers in wards.

“The most important way of ensuring appropriate levels of nursing staff on wards is by using the workload and workforce planning tools – which this government has made mandatory for all health boards,” she said.

She said the tools had “contributed significantly” to a 3.9% increase in the numbers of nurses being employed by NHS Scotland under the current government, adding that more than 1,000 additional nurses had been recruited over the last year.


Readers' comments (3)

  • Stating how many nurses are on a particular ward means nothing unless the public know how many there ought to be, in reality. There is usually a set quota regardless of the work-load, so if you have all care patients or those who can attend to their own personal hygiene, the levels tend to be the same. That is aside from a debate on patient-nurse ratio, and what constitutes 'nurse' in that sense.

    In short, whatever the legally required quota, without debating the changing war d environment due to changing patients, this is superficial.

    PS - does posting on here actually make a difference, or do we just waste our time logging-in?

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  • I also wonder whether it will have any meaning for the public?

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  • Its not truly representative with the demand at any given time. Ward based care can vary from time to time depending on the nature of patient requirement e.g. high dependency patients, infection outbreak requiring cohort nursing, special one to one vulnerability. This would merely present an acceptable level of staffing for the average care estimate on a given speciality and thus, not taking in to consideration additional pressures placed on nursing staff.

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