Expert Calls for More Nurses as NHS Trusts Publish New Data on Staffing Levels

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A nursing expert, with more than 30 years’ experience in the profession, has called for an increase in the number of nurses, as Trusts begin to publish data on staffing levels.

From this week, all NHS Trusts in England will have to publish nurse staffing levels, under new rules on transparency introduced in response to the Francis report.

The information will be published on the NHS Choices website. Meanwhile, trusts must also begin displaying individual ward staffing levels on boards outside all adult inpatient wards.

However, nursing expert, Dr Jan Quallington, says that while greater transparency is welcome, what is really needed are more nurses on the wards.

“Data without real staff increases cannot make the difference that is needed,” she said. “If we want to achieve the standards of care for patients that nurses want to provide, and which are aspired to in Francis, we must make an investment in more nurses.”

Last year, The Francis Report recommended that safe staffing levels should be introduced as a means of protecting patients from poor care. The Report identified poor staffing as a contributory factor to the lapses in care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust. In the same year Peter Carter and the RCN recommended staffing levels on wards of one nurse to each 5-7 patients, dependent on the type of ward.

Dr Quallington has called for minimum staffing levels to be set nationally, in order to provide real transparency for patients and their families.

“Jane Cumming, England’s Chief Nursing Officer, has clearly stated that the data about staffing being published is not comparable between NHS Trusts,” Dr Quallington said. “This means that all Trusts have the capacity to interpret the guidance as they see fit and can include different job roles, such as specialist nurses, who may not be based in ward areas, in the calculations. If all Trusts publish data sets based on different criteria how can, monitoring bodies, patients and relatives make sensible judgements about standards of staffing.”