Call to boost nursing staff levels
Published on 17 May 2012 12:00 PM
Hospital wards looking after older people should increase their staffing levels, according to a new report.
A study due to be published by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warns that current staff numbers are putting patients at risk.
On an average 28-bed ward there should be one member of staff for every 3.3 to 3.8 patients, the RCN said.
Currently, the average ratio stands at 1:4.6.
The guidance also recommends increasing the number of registered nurses on each ward, and raising the number of staff on duty to eight.
The full report is due to be published in a few weeks.
The RCN said it was prompted to research hospital care for older people following recent studies by the Patients Association, Care Quality Commission and the Commission on Dignity and Care.
Nicky Hayes, older people's advisor at the RCN, said: 'It's time to draw a line under the negative stories and focus on the positive.
'We want to give nurses a toolkit to help them do that successfully. We have to pin it down, or we won't get satisfaction on this.'
She told an RCN congress fringe event: 'You heard Andrew Lansley say this morning that nurses need to tell their managers when there are not adequate numbers, and we wanted to help you do that - with something that provided an evidence base so you wouldn't just be seen as whingeing.'
The RCN's findings were based on a survey of 300 hospital nurses working with older people across the UK.
Michelle Mitchell, Age UK Charity Director-General, commented: 'Staffing levels and ensuring the right skills mix is available on older people's wards is key to providing dignified, safe and high quality patient care.
'Older people often have a wide range of needs which must be considered when making staffing decisions. Ward sisters and charge nurses have a crucial leadership role to play in making sure that patient's dignity is a top priority. Staff need to be empowered and accountable to make sure this happens and that the needs of the patient is put at the heart of care.'
Copyright Press Association 2012