George urges Health Secretary to adopt safe staffing standard to cut ‘avoidable’ deaths

Posted on: 11th February 2015

West Cornwall MP, Andrew George, today urged Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to respond to the most significant and easily rectifiable issue that contributes to ‘avoidable’ deaths on hospital wards – unsafe staffing levels.  Mr George’s Parliamentary Question in the Commons today follows the publication of Sir Robert Francis’s report on the NHS.

The Safe-Staffing Alliance – which includes the Royal College of Nursing, the Patients’ Association, the Florence Nightingale Foundation, Nursing Standard and the public sector Unison – has highlighted that the present arrangements mean that 45% of wards have unsafe staffing levels putting lives at risk.

Mr George, Commons Health Select Committee member and leading campaigner for safe staffing commented, “If the Health Secretary wants to do something about ‘avoidable’ hospital deaths he doesn’t need to just rank, study or criticise. He can respond positively to the campaign and the clear evidence that unsafe staffing is a major risk. Evidence shows that when an acute ward has less than one registered nurse to seven patients there is an increased risk of ‘excess’ or ‘avoidable’ deaths.

“It is a false economy to cut registered nurse levels. It results in poor patient outcomes, longer patient stays and more costs. That’s quite apart from patient trauma, medical complications and avoidable deaths. It is significant that it is not just trade union and nursing lobby groups that are calling for this, but the patients’ associations as well.”