Trained nurse levels dangerously low warns George

St Ives MP Andrew George today said that Minister’s “excuse” for not agreeing to safe mandatory nurse to patient rations was thin.

Speaking in Health Questions Mr George, who is a member of the Health Select Committee, asked: “There is mounting evidence that clinical care failure is as much to do with inadequate staff levels as anything else. In view of that, do Ministers agree that it is worth looking at the merits of establishing mandatory registered nurse to patient ratios across secondary and tertiary care wards?”

Daniel Poulter, the Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Health Services, responded: “This point has been raised before and although it sounds like a good idea in principle, the problem is that different aspects of care in different wards—for example, an older people’s ward compared with a ward that looks after younger people—will have differences in the intensity of nursing. Therefore, a mandated ratio would be difficult to implement. A ratio may be counter-productive to making sure that we can give more intensive nursing cover where it is needed, and could even encourage a race to the bottom.”

Speaking afterwards, Mr George said: “Well, if that’s the best excuse the Government can come up with then they will have to think again. It’s precisely because of the present and clinically dangerous ‘race to the bottom’ that mandatory registered nurse staff ratios need to be introduced. They’ve been working well in other countries like Australia and as we are now about to enter a world with a greater diversity of private providers, establishing safe registered staff levels will become essential.”

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