The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has said having more than eight patients to one nurse on a ward in the day should act as a trigger for checking if care was being compromised.
Currently it is entirely up to hospitals to set their own nurse staffing levels, but NICE was asked to look at the issue by ministers after it was flagged up by the public inquiry into the Stafford Hospital scandal.
Healthwatch England welcomes this guidance from NICE, and looks to hospitals to make sure that this is applied in a meaningful way and made clear to patients.
Katherine Rake, Chief Executive of Healthwatch England, said:
“Hospital wards are incredibly busy places and we all know how stretched the doctors and nurses are. However, this means it can be really hard for patients, and their family and friends, to actually understand when departments are just hectic or are actually unsafe.
“The guidance from NICE will help to ensure that all wards have the right number of staff at all times, but the hospitals need to translate this so that those staying on the wards understand what’s going on and when to make their voices heard if they are not getting the standard of care they are entitled to.”