Stop “false economy ” of too few nurses – George urges Health Secretary

Posted on: 16th October 2014

Health Select Committee member and campaigner for safe staffing on hospital wards – Liberal Democrat MP, Andrew George – is urging Health Secretary, Rt. Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, to back the campaign for safe registered nurse staffing levels on acute hospital wards in order to cut the NHS bill to meet the costs of litigation and compensation for mistakes. The Health Sec is making a speech in Birmingham today in which he highlights the £2.5bn cost to the NHS of ‘mistakes’ in the service.

Mr George has urged the Government to accept the standard of never allowing registered nurse to patient ratios to fall below one nurse to eight patients (excluding the nurse in charge) on acute hospital wards to achieve the patient safety and better outcomes that clinicians and professional bodies have advised. He argues that this would be an ‘invest to save’ strategy too.

The campaign for safe nurse to patient ratios not only has the support of the Royal College of Nursing, the Florence Nightingale Foundation, the Patients Association and other professional bodies, but also Robert Francis QC who reported into the Mid Staffs scandal.

Mr George said:  “Patients are daily put at risk as a result of inadequate registered nurse staffing levels on hospital wards.  It is a false economy to continue ignoring professional advice.  Nurses cannot fulfil their professional standards if they are run ragged and unable to cope because there simply aren’t enough of them on the ward.

“Investing in safe staffing results in better patient outcomes, earlier discharge and lower readmissions.  Carrying on as we are is a false economy.”