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Having minimum nurse to patient ratios cuts risk of death, new study claims

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New research examining the effect of minimum nurse-to-patient ratios has found it reduces the risks of those in care dying by up to 11%. 

The study, published in The Lancet, also said fewer patients were readmitted and they had shorter stays in hospital.

It compared 400,000 patients and 17,000 nurses working in 27 hospitals in Queensland, Australia to 28 other hospitals. The state has a policy of just one nurse to every four patients during the day and one to seven at night, in a bid to improve safety and standards of care.

The research said savings made from patients having a shorter length of stay, which fell 9%, and less readmissions were double the cost of hiring the extra nurses needed to achieve the ratios.

NHS England has resisted moves towards minimum nurse to patient ratios, suspended work by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on safe nurse staffing in 2015. This came as the watchdog was preparing to call for minimum ratios in accident and emergency departments. It has advised that eight or more patients to one nurse is the point at which harm can start to occur.

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Source: The Independent, 12 May 2021

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