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Department of Health: 'More clinical staff working in NHS now than two years ago'

A Department of Health statement has responded to today's Nursing Time survey and its findings that suggest more than half of nurses think their ward or unit is dangerously understaffed.

There are more clinical staff working in the NHS now than there were in May 2010, and nearly 2,500 new nurses started working in NHS in October 2012 alone.

Hospitals are in charge of setting staffing levels but nursing leaders have been clear that they should publish staffing details and the evidence to show the numbers are right and safe for the services they deliver.

We are working with the sector skills councils, unions and employers to develop minimum training standards and a new code of conduct for health support workers.

– Department of Health spokesperson

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Ratio of patients to nurses 'could compromise care'

The majority of respondents to the Nursing Times survey also said the ratio of patients to each nurse at their hospitals could compromise patient care.

More than eight out of 10 respondents said staffing on general medical wards in an acute hospital was at a ratio of eight patients to one nurse, or more.

And of these nearly half (44%) said the ratio was 10 or more patients per nurse.

A ratio of eight or more patients per registered nurse is associated with patient care on a ward regularly being compromised by short staffing, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

Hospital wards 'dangerously understaffed'

More than half of nurses think their ward or unit is dangerously understaffed, a Nursing Times survey revealed today.

Nearly six out of 10 (57%) described their ward as sometimes or always "dangerously understaffed", the research showed.

Nearly six out of 10 nurses surveyed described their ward as sometimes or always "dangerously understaffed".
Nearly six out of 10 nurses surveyed described their ward as sometimes or always "dangerously understaffed". Credit: David Jones/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Over three quarters (76%) said they had witnessed "poor" care in their ward or unit over the past year - of which nearly 30% said they see poor care regularly.

Ahead of the the publication of the public inquiry report into deaths at Mid Staffordshire Hospital, the magazine polled 600 of its readers across a range of issues including staffing, patient safety and NHS culture.

Prince Harry arrives in the UK after Afghanistan tour

Prince Harry landed at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

Prince Harry has arrived back in the UK after his tour of duty in Afghanistan.

The 28-year-old Apache co-pilot gunner left the war-torn country on Monday evening and has been on post-deployment "decompression" at a British military base, thought to be in Cyprus.

He landed at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire and will now travel with his unit, 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, to their Suffolk headquarters.

Read more: Julie Etchingham's blog on why Harry is desperate to prove himself and is longing for Army life.

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NSPCC welcomes A&E database plans

Lisa Harker, head of strategy at the NSPCC, welcomed the announcement of plans to log children's visits to A&E on a national database.

She said: "NHS doctors and nurses are often in the frontline of child protection and play a crucial role in identifying abuse victims as quickly as possible.

"So this new system for sharing information about children at risk should prove an important aid."

DoH: Records will help medical staff build a fuller picture

Childrens' visits to accident and emergency departments are to be logged Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Under the Government's new plans, a flag will appear on a child's medical record if they are subject to a child protection plan or are being looked after by the local authority

According to the Department of Health, doctors and nurses will be able to use this information as part of their overall clinical assessment, along with information about where and when children have previously been receiving urgent treatment.

This will help them build up a better picture of what is happening in the child's life so they can alert social services if they think something might be wrong.

Health minister: Logging infant visits to A&E will 'save lives'

The health minister Dr Dan Poulter has defended new measures that will see all children who visit accident and emergency (A&E) departments logged in a database. He said:

Up until now, it has been hard for frontline healthcare professionals to know if a child is already listed as being at risk or if children have been repeatedly seen in different emergency departments or urgent care centres with suspicious injuries or complaints, which may indicate abuse.

Providing instant access to that information means vulnerable and abused children will be identified much more quickly - which will save lives.

– Dr Dan Poulter, health minister
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