Berwick – Safe staffing is the key

Posted on: 6th August 2013

Responding to Professor Don Berwick’s review published this afternoon, Liberal Democrat Health Select Committee member, Andrew George, welcomed the Professor’s emphasis on Hospital chiefs keeping a close eye on staffing levels to protect patient safety.  However, Mr George said that the US Health expert should have gone further and faced down Government resistance to establishing firm guidelines on registered nurse staff ratios on hospital wards.

Mr George, who has campaigned on safe staffing in the Commons and who will host a meeting for the Safe Staffing Alliance in the Commons in the coming weeks, said:

“Repeating mantra about improving ‘culture and leadership’ is all very well.  But if you haven’t got enough trained staff on the wards then patients will be put at risk, no matter how robust the culture or charismatic the leadership.

“The Safe Staffing Alliance has recommended a ‘fundamental standard’ where the registered nurse to patient ratio should never fall below 1 nurse to 8 patients on acute hospital wards.  Whilst Ministers are resisting this, advisors like Don Berwick should not beat around the bush but make it absolutely clear that many of the instances of poor patient care coincide with not having enough trained nursing staff on the wards.”


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