Warm words and management babble won’t improve patient safety

Posted on: 17th January 2014

Following his debate in the Commons on Wednesday night, Health Select Committee Member, Andrew George MP, cautioned Government Ministers not to retreat behind “management babble and warm words” but to urgently address the serious problem of inadequate registered nurse staffing levels on acute hospital wards.

The case made by Mr George is contained in the attached Hansard transcript of the debate.

Commenting on the Minister’s response, Mr George said:

“If Government Ministers really do believe that introducing minimum staff ratios will not improve patient care then I would expect Ministers to immediately withdraw mandatory minimum staffing levels from those areas of healthcare – like paediatric wards and intensive care – where they are currently in place.

“And if Ministers really do believe that introducing a clearer guarantee of a fundamental standard of “never having more than 8” acutely ill patients to each registered nurse is merely part of the “tick boxing” culture that was one of the causes of the Mid Staffs scandal, then why have Government Ministers introduced so many new tick boxes themselves – like hourly ward rounding, safety thermometer, and the proposal for trainee nurses to be a healthcare assistant for up to a year?

“If Government Ministers and the Government’s Chief Nursing Officer want to carry on trotting out unarguable platitudes and want “the right staff, with the right skills, in the right place at the right time” they will need more than just warm words and management babble. We also need some hard lines, clear references and certainties, like that proposed by the Safe Staffing Alliance. We need fundamental standards below which no service should fall.

“After all, when is it ever safe in an acute hospital to have more than 8 acutely ill patients to each registered nurse?”

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