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Members of Parliament on the Health Select Committee have recommended that English Hospitals should publicly display the number of nurses they have on duty on each ward, following concerns over the staffing levels that have caused failures such as those at the Staffordshire NHS Trust.

It is recommended that a safe ratio for hospitals to follow would be one nurse to every eight patients, a figure that the Safe Staffing Alliance (which includes the Royal College of Nursing, Unison and the Patients Association) says has been being breached at many of the countries hospitals. In a report for The Times newspaper, a staggering 43% of wards at a sample 46 hospitals had staffing below this advised level.

Evidence presented to the Nursing and Midwifery Council showed that at times the ratio at Stafford Hospital reached as low as one nurse to 16 patients during the day, meaning that nursing staff were being massively overstretched.

Parliament has gone on to blames nursing staff, saying that they should take responsibility for any such failing that might occur on wards, but is it really fair to blame nurses? Granted, it is a nurses duty as a professional to report any such low staffing levels as clinical incidents to their Trust Boards, but at the same time it is the board’s responsibility to ensure that a. staffing levels are not allowed to drop so low and b. that when incidents are reported they are actually followed up.

At the same time, government can by no means be allowed to get off scot-free. When £1.5 billion was handed back to the Chancellor of the Exchequer by the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, earlier this year, where did the government think that these savings were coming from? Especially when the NHS costs have gone up year on year. It is far too simple to blame the professionals on the ground, when they are the ones who have the least control over the situation. The blame should ultimately be put on those that are paid huge amounts of money to ensure that healthcare is run correctly: the Directors, Chief Executives and Ministers.

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