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Intensive care staffing ratios dramatically diluted

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The staff-to-patient ratios for intensive care are being dramatically reduced as the NHS seeks to rapidly expand its capacity to treat severely ill covid-19 patients, HSJ has learned.

Acute trusts in London have been told to base their staffing models for ICU on having one critical care nurse for every six patients, supported by two non-specialist nurses and two healthcare assistants. 

Trusts have also been told by NHS England and NHS Improvement’s regional directorate to plan for one critical care consultant per 30 patients, supported by two middle grade doctors. The normal guidance is the consultant-to-patient ratio “should not exceed a range between 1:8-1:15”.

Nicki Credland, chair of the British Association of Critical Care Nurses, confirmed the plans had been agreed today nationally.

She told HSJ: “There will absolutely be a lot of concern about this in the profession, but it’s the only option we’ve got available. We simply don’t have the capacity to increase our staffing levels quickly enough."

“It will dilute the standard of care but that’s absolutely better than not having enough critical care staff. There’s also a massive issue around the ability of critical care nurses not only to care for their patients but also monitor what the non-specialists in their teams are doing.”

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 24 March 2020

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