Demanding safe staffing levels to ensure quality nursing care

Politicians should be accountable for staff numbers says Jean Gray

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This article was first published in Nursing Standard, Vol 27 No 21, January 23 2013

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Who should be held accountable for safe and compassionate care in the NHS?

The answer, of course, is that every professional working in the health service has to take responsibility for the care they provide. At the same time, managers have to ensure that the environment is one in which all staff have the resources and the support they need to meet that challenge. But what about politicians?

Prime minister David Cameron has talked a lot about compassion, and has pledged extra funding for staff training. But there is still a huge reluctance to address the crucial issue of staff numbers.

When Nursing Standard and the Patients Association launched the Care campaign 15 months ago, readers told us that staf fing levels are the single most important factor in delivering the fundamentals of care.

Nursing leaders are increasingly convinced that staff to patient ratios must be addressed, and are lobbying as part of the Care campaign for minimum staf fing levels. Safe and Sound, the Safe Staf fing Alliance, was launched earlier this month as a result of round table discussions organised by Nursing Standard last year.

There is a wealth of evidence available to back the alliance’s case. Labour has declared its support, but with the Francis report into poor care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust imminent, those in power must recognise this evidence. Furthermore, they have to be held to account if they ignore it.

Jean Gray is editor in chief of Nursing Standard

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

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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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