Demanding safe staffing levels to ensure quality nursing care

MPs, do you support nurses?

We're asking MPs a simple question: do you support nurses?

In the run up to the general election in May we are asking all MPs a simple question: Do you support nurses? We have written to each and every one of them calling on them to support our Safe Staffing Alliance manifesto which sets out the key issues on safe nurse staffing.

Our manifesto makes it clear that one registered nurse to eight patients, plus a nurse in charge (during the week) is unsafe, and not a satisfactory minimum staffing level. Missed care occurs at one nurse to seven patients, so a lower ratio is needed.

Evidence shows that 45 per cent of wards in England are operating at unsafe levels. When you add the 27 per cent drop in district nurse numbers over the past four years, and the fact that 25 per cent of nursing directors are only in post for one year, it is little wonder the health service is in meltdown.

The NHS needs a reboot. Trust chief executives across the UK should each declare a week-long internal major incident to put the focus back on patient flow. In trusts where this has already happened, directors have been hands on in leading the initiative, working closely with community services, while non-clinical staff volunteered to support clinicians.

The result has been 85-90 per cent bed occupancy, no so-called 'bed-blockers', no cancelled elective operations, A&E targets met, patients discharged before noon, equipment fixed, staff smiling, improved patient experiences and our cherished NHS restored to normality.

The way forward is clear: we need effective planning of care and the workforce, clear and recognised standards, and transparency in the system. Employing sufficient nurses and midwives to ensure that patients are treated with dignity and respect should be viewed as an investment, not a cost.

Please take a moment to sign up in support of our campaign and download our Never More Than 8 leaflet .

Susan Osborne
Chair, Safe Staffing Alliance