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Patient safety ‘in danger’ from lack of NHS nurses

Hospital admissions are rising at three times the rate of the nurse workforce

The shortage of nursing staff in England is putting patient safety in danger, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned.

An analysis by the RCN shows that for every one extra nurse NHS acute trusts in England have managed to recruit in the five years since 2013/14, there were 157 extra admissions to hospital as emergencies or for planned treatment. 

Last year the number of extra admissions for every additional nurse taken on increased to 217. 

The analysis shows that the extra 9,894 nurses recruited to NHS hospitals since 2013/14 is dwarfed by the additional 1,557,074 admissions over the same period.

Public polling carried out for the college reveals that 71% of respondents in the UK think there are not enough nurses in the NHS to provide safe care to patients.

The college is calling for legislation to be brought forward in England to help address the nursing workforce crisis. Earlier this year, nurses and support workers in Scotland secured new legislation on safe staffing levels after a nurse staffing law was introduced in Wales in 2016.

Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN chief executive and general secretary, said patient safety is being endangered by nursing shortages. 

“Staffing shortfalls are never simply numbers on a spreadsheet – they affect real patients in real communities. We’re calling on the public in England to fight for nurses and sign our petition calling on the Westminster Government to invest in the future workforce and make clear who is accountable in law for safe patient care,” she added.