Hospitals have been urged to publish staffing levels after concerns were raised over the shortage of nurses on NHS wards.

Out of 46 hospitals investigated, 43% of wards had staffing levels lower than one nurse per eight patients, the ratio recommended by the Safe Staffing Alliance. This is putting patients at risk, with elderly care wards found to be the worst staffed.

Jane Ball, deputy director of the National Nursing Research Unit at King’s College London, led the research. “I would have hoped that less that 10% of wards would be at these danger levels”, she said.

“We should all be gravely concerned about this. It’s not simply that nurses aren’t able to talk to patients and comfort people, it’s about levels of surveillance. Having fewer skilled people to keep an eye on patients can ultimately lead to a high risk of them dying in hospital.”

MPs are now calling for hospitals to publish staffing levels on a daily basis, a practice already undertaken at Salford Royal Infirmary. This would enable both the regulators and the public to see how many nurses are working that day compared with the number that should be on duty.

This is part of a wider call to make the NHS more transparent, with MPs taking steps to create a “culture of openness” in the wake of the Stafford Hospital scandal.

Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “what Jane Ball’s research has found is unacceptable and we should be extremely concerned about it. In most places where there’s poor care it’s not because nurses are wilfully negligent or unfeeling, it’s because there aren’t the numbers.”

Have you been harmed by negligent nursing care?

If you or your loved one has been harmed by negligent nursing care while in hospital, please get in touch with us to discuss your options.

Back to all news

Share Article With:

delicious digg facebook reddit twitter stumble upon