Safe Staffing Alliance

Demanding safe staffing levels to ensure quality nursing care

A cause of great concern

Susan Osborne

The Government has suspended NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence) from producing further guidance on safe staffing levels in the NHS and this is a cause of great concern.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive NHS England says he has requested Jane Cummings, Chief Nurse NHS England, to incorporate nurse workforce planning into the 5 year forward plan initiatives.

This is a serious backward step as NICE were commissioned to provide an independent review on safe staffing levels based on research and expert advice from the healthcare field. NHS England is not in a position to provide an independent view and the outcomes will be fragmented across its various initiatives with no standardized approach to staffing levels resulting in a serious risk to patient safety. (It is of interest that on the same day of the suspension, NHS Wales voted unanimously to pass a safe staffing to its second stage.)

The Safe Staffing Alliance is concerned that the action by the NHS in England could result in further staff cuts caused by capping temporary staff usage and introducing Band 4 unregistered nurse posts to replace registered nurses thus creating an additional layer of staff for registered nurses to supervise/ delegate responsibility hich could compromise their NMC registration.

Our manifesto makes it clear makes it clear that one registered nurse to eight patients, plus a nurse in charge (during the week) is unsafe, and not a satisfactory minimum staffing level. Missed care occurs at one nurse to seven patients, so a lower ratio is needed.

Evidence shows that 45 per cent of wards in England are operating at unsafe levels. When you add the 27 per cent drop in district nurse numbers over the past four years, and the fact that 25 per cent of nursing directors are only in post for one year, it is little wonder the health service is in meltdown.

The way forward is clear: we need effective planning of care and the workforce, clear and recognised standards, and transparency in the system. Employing sufficient nurses and midwives to ensure that patients are treated with dignity and respect should be viewed as an investment, not a cost.

Please take a moment to sign up in support of our campaign or you can download our Never More Than 8 leaflet here.

Also you can read our response to the NICE staffing guideline consultation.

Miss Susan Osborne CBE
Chair, Safe Staffing Alliance

Manifesto for safe staffing

Patients are sicker than ever before. The Safe Staffing Alliance believes that meeting those patients' needs through compassionate care can only be achieved by adequate nurse staffing levels. Given the compelling evidence of a link between registered nurse (RN) numbers and quality of care, ensuring there are sufficient nurses, in all areas of service provision, is a priority.

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Safe Staffing Alliance lobby for change

Members of the Commons health committee were among MPs and peers who signed up to the safe staffing campaign at a reception at the Houses of Parliament.

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Supporters: organisations


In addition to these organisations, the Safe Staffing Alliance also has the support of a number of individuals. Find out about them.


About safe staffing

The Safe Staffing Alliance has brought together some of the vast body of evidence that staffing levels are linked to quality.

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Read our response to NICE

About the Alliance

Alliance panel

The Alliance is made up of nurse leaders who came together as part of the Nursing Standard / Patients Association Care campaign.

Find out about our organisation and the arguments for safe staffing levels.

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Support from MPs

Houses of Parliament

We emailed all MPs with a copy of the Safe Staffing Manifesto and asked them: Do you support nurses?

Here are the MPs who responded...

Is yours one of them?

Contact us

We would like to hear what's going on in your area so we have an up-to-date picture of the staffing situation nationally.

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