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Stopping NICE staffing guidance branded a 'serious mistake'

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A former member of the cross-party health select committee has labelled the decision to suspend the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s work programme on nurse safe staffing guidance as a “serious mistake”.

Andrew George, who lost his seat as the Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives in the general election, warned that the move to halt the NICE programme posed a severe risk to patient safety.

“This is a serious mistake. They should think this through again”

Andrew George

He said the revelation that NICE had been asked by the govnerment arms-length body NHS England to stop the programme so that the latter could carry it out work on safe staffing instead would lead to understaffed organisations, resulting in longer hospital stays, avoidable deaths and problems with discharge.

He also said the move would increase early retirement among nurses, encourage other nurses to leave and would, therefore, create more reliance on agency nurses.

Writing on his website, Mr George said: “Not having enough nurses will lengthen hospital stays, make patient discharge more complex and difficult, result in avoidable deaths and higher litigation, produce higher levels of staff absence with stress, damage nurse recruitment, increase early retirement and nurse exodus and ramp up the agency nurse bill.”

“This is a serious mistake,” he said. “They should think this through again.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • It's a pity that the cross-party Health Select Committee has lost such an insightful member.

    It is a challenging enough undertking, for any agency to be charged with providing guidance about minimum Nursing levels, (which I take to mean appropriately trained, able and experienced Registered Nurses for the specialty, and those basically trained HCAs or Nursing Assistants, who will work under the direction of and responsible too the Registered Nurse(s) - across the wide range of environments in which Registered Nurses are expected to work).

    To change that agency and ask another very different group to pick up the work, begs myriad questions about timescales, capability, and Terms of Reference. Arguably, also, it effectively, Kicks It Into the Long Grass.

    These are huge pieces of work, but potentially, as information and evidence is aligned, will become seen as invaluable.

    All guidance though, requires systematic review and upkeep, if it is to remain relevant and realistic.
    NIHCE is an agency that might have been able to factor this in. I'm not as sure that other agencies, currently, have this capability.

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