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.
We asked subscribers on the ITV News Facebook page their thoughts on nursing shortages in NHS hospitals.
– MAXINE CREEDON BARRETT
I've just been in and had a major operation and the nurses were run ragged doing everything from changing beds to looking after me but I still got 100% care. I was lucky I was on a ward with only four beds.
– HAYLEY BROWN
I was at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich last week and on the chemotherapy ward where they only had two staff, and were run ragged. The nursing staff work extremely hard and very long hours!
– TRACY CARR WASHENRY
There are times when you only have one staff nurse to look after a whole ward in hospital, with maybe only two other health care assistants!!!