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”
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.”