MPs are calling for a daily headcount of nurses on public wards and a public admission if those numbers fall below an acceptable minimum level.
They claim it is needed to prevent a repetition of the Stafford hospital scandal.
ITV News Science and Medical Editor Lawrence McGinty reports:
It comes as new research by King's College Hospital claims that half of the nursing wards in the UK are regularly understaffed.
Research published today saw 3,000 hospitals from 46 different UK hospitals asked questions about their last shift.
It found 43% of hospitals surveyed had in some cases one nurse for every eight patients.
In 18% of hospitals, there was one one nurse for every ten patients.
The all-party Health Select Committee says standards should be set for nursing numbers.
The government agrees, but argues that any monitoring system is not simple to introduce, as some patients such as those in intensive care need more staff.
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