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Safer standards for nursing care unveiled as public fear effect of shortages

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New standards for the safe working of nurses across hospital wards, care homes and in the community have been set out by the Royal College of Nursing, for the first time in its 100 year history.

In a bid to underline the safety-critical nature of expert nurses in healthcare, the RCN hopes the minimum standards will be used to force improvements in safe staffing levels and the treatment of nurses across the country by NHS trusts and other employers.

It comes as a new poll finds a majority of adults believe there are not enough nurses to provide safe care. There are 50,000 nursing vacancies across the NHS and research has repeatedly shown having degree-educated nurses leads to better patient safety.

A major study across 500 hospitals in 12 European countries found for every extra patient a nurse was expected to look after, the chances of the patient dying increased 7%. Other studies have shown replacing degree-educated nurses with less educated staff led to an increase in mortality of 21%.

Despite the research, the UK government and NHS England has consistently opposed tougher ratios of nurses to patients and has invested in new non-degree roles to fill gaps in staffing.

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Source: The Independent, 9 May 2021

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