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NHS “must ensure correct staff levels”

8 December 2010

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Nursing leaders in Scotland have urged the NHS to ensure the safety of patients by providing the correct staffing levels.

According to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) there is a clear link between poor staffing levels and failing care.

A new report from the group said that around two-fifths of nurses in the UK claimed care had been compromised at least once a week because of a shortage of staff.

The survey found that “avoidable complications” are only avoidable if there is effective nursing care.

The avoidable complications include deep vein thrombosis (DVT), urinary tract infections (UTIs) and pressure ulcers.

The report, Guidance on safe nurse staffing levels in the UK, said hospitals need the right number of nurses with the correct skills in place at all times.

It said that Scotland is the only part of the UK that has nationally agreed workforce and workload planning tools for the nursing workforce. These are designed to ensure health boards employ the right number of nurses and unregistered nursing staff with the right skills in the right places.

However, the RCN said that health boards are disregarding the tools and are relying on staff turnover and other “short-sighted” measures to reduce nursing and other staff in a bid to balance their books.

RCN Scotland Director Theresa Fyffe said: “It is a great shame that the sophisticated workforce and workload planning tools for the nursing workforce in Scotland are being overlooked as health boards try to save money by not replacing nurses and other staff when they leave.

NHS nurses who regularly report that patient care is compromised are working on wards with twice as many patients per registered nurse as those who report that care is never compromised, according to the study.”

Copyright © Press Association 2010