Safe Staffing Alliance

Demanding safe staffing levels to ensure quality nursing care

How can nurses show compassion in 7.5 minutes an hour?

Susan Osborne

What can you do in seven and a half minutes? Change a dressing? Maybe, if it's straightforward. Check and administer an injection or make a bed? Probably.

Sit down and talk to a patient about their feelings on just having learned their condition is terminal? Unlikely. But seven and a half minutes per patient per hour is the amount of time available when the staffing ratio on a ward is one registered nurse to eight patients. How can nurses possibly provide adequate care, let alone truly compassionate care, in that amount of time?'

Research commissioned by our Alliance found that a ratio of one RN to eight patients (not counting the nurse in charge) is the point at which patients begin to be harmed.

We are very concerned. We don't want to shroud-wave but it's time for a reality check. We know almost half of units in England are running at a ratio of 1:8 or worse

The heat generated by the Francis report has given us a window of opportunity. The holders of the purse-strings are amenable to messages about making staffing safer. But we want our message to be more than "safe staffing is about not killing people." We want to ensure our health service is fit for purpose and is a place where patients feel safe. We also want nursing to be a top career choice for our school children.

But we need to inject a sense of urgency. The "Francis effect" window will not stay open forever. So we are keen to press home the 'never more than 8' message.

Please take a moment to sign up in support of our campaign or you can download our Never More Than 8 leaflet here.

Also you can read our response to the NICE staffing guideline consultation.

Susan Osborne
Chair, Safe Staffing Alliance

Manifesto for Safe staffing

Patients are sicker than ever before. The Safe Staffing Alliance believes that meeting those patients' needs through compassionate care can only be achieved by adequate nurse staffing levels. Given the compelling evidence of a link between registered nurse (RN) numbers and quality of care, ensuring there are sufficient nurses, in all areas of service provision, is a priority.

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Safe Staffing Alliance lobby for change

Members of the Commons health committee were among MPs and peers who signed up to the safe staffing campaign at a reception at the Houses of Parliament.

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Supporters: organisations


In addition to these organisations, the Safe Staffing Alliance also has the support of a number of individuals. Find out about them.


About safe staffing

The Safe Staffing Alliance has brought together some of the vast body of evidence that staffing levels are linked to quality.

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Read our response to NICE



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About the Alliance

Alliance panel

The Alliance is made up of nurse leaders who came together as part of the Nursing Standard / Patients Association Care campaign.

Find out about our organisation and the arguments for safe staffing levels.

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Contact us

We would like to hear what's going on in your area so we have an up-to-date picture of the staffing situation nationally.

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