Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

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.

Are you able to Speak Out Safely? Sign our petition to put pressure on your trust to support an open and transparent NHS.


Readers' comments (3)

  • Try 14 to one, with one support worker

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.