The government says the RCN must work to improve standards instead of as a union for nurses after they hit out at new training plans.
As the government and nursing unions fight over how best to improve care, ITV News asked viewers to share their experiences.
Nurses gave Andrew Lansley a tough time today as he tried to defend reforms of the health service.
Peter Carter failed to reply to ITV News Correspondent Rupert Evelyn's question despite being asked several times for a clear answer:
NHS chief Sir David Nicholson has said he is "absolutely completely committed" to the NHS despite questions about his future. He has been criticised for his role in the Mid Staffs hospital deaths scandal.
David Cameron has defended the Government's proposals for all new nurses to work as healthcare assistants, carrying out basic tasks, before beginning their nursing training.
The head of the Royal College of Nursing, Peter Carter, branded it a "really stupid idea".
Speaking at a PM Direct event in Derbyshire, Mr Cameron said: "It's going to be controversial, but in the end the kind of health service we want is not just about making sure we've got he facts and figures and the money spent well it's about the level of care."
The head of the Royal College of Nursing, Peter Carter, has branded the government's championing of healthcare assistants a "really stupid idea".
The government proposal is for all new nurses to work as healthcare assistants, carrying out basic tasks, before beginning their nursing training.
Mr Carter said the measure would be a waste of taxpayers' money.
"I don't believe it will happen. I believe it is a really stupid idea that will not benefit patients," he added.
Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham told Daybreak that Labour agreed with the claims made by the Royal College of Nursing this morning, adding that cuts to staffing levels was causing "intense pressure" on hospital wards.
"Having enough staff on the ground is essential to delivering safe care".
Janet Davies, director of the Royal College of Nurses said it would be difficult to say how many more nurses the NHS needs to make a safe working environment.
She told Daybreak: "The key thing here for us is to have levels that we actually know are safe."
In the public inquiry report into the serious failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, inquiry chairman Robert Francis QC said NHS officials should consider the "benefits and value for money of possible staff-patient ratios".
- In a recent survey by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), nearly three quarters of nurses said that staffing levels in hospitals have dropped to unsafe levels at least once a month.
- The RCN said that worryingly, 9.5% of respondents claimed that staff numbers fell to an unsafe level on every single shift.
- A separate poll of more than 8,000 nurses, also conducted by the RCS, found that 29% believed staff levels were "rarely or never" safe.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said the introduction of mandatory safe staffing levels is now a "matter of extreme urgency".
Nine out of 10 nurses said they would support the introduction of mandatory staffing levels to protect patient safety.
– Department of Health spokesperson
As individual Trusts respond to the Francis inquiry we expect them to look at the issue of nursing numbers in their hospitals. However, if the RCN wants to have credibility in this debate then they must first set out how they are going to respond to the criticism levelled at them in the Francis report.
The numbers of staff on hospital wards are "regularly unsafe," the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) (RCN) has warned.
A poll of more than 2,000 nurses, who are in charge of hospital wards and team leaders who work in the community, found that almost three quarters of nurses think staffing levels are unsafe.
A third said patients were put at risk on a weekly basis due to diminished staff numbers.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN said: "Without a doubt understaffing is the single biggest challenge facing the NHS today".
Royal College of Nursing chief executive andgeneral secretary Dr Peter Carter said: "It is shocking that more than onein four locations inspected in this report have failed to meet even essentialstandards of quality and safety.
"We are reassured that the CQC has taken action to address these failings; nevertheless, this presents a long overdue wake-up call for the Government. Those locations in question must be brought up to standard as a matter of urgency."
Ed Miliband says NHS staff and patients should hold the Government to account for the controversial reforms to the health service. In a speech to the Royal College of Nursing conference in Harrogate he said:
The NHS is owned by the people of Britain. Our health service is owned by patients, professionals and the people. And their voice - your voice - deserves to be heard. I can't promise that we will always agree about everything. But what I will never do is what this Government did: dismiss you as just a 'vested interest'. You were not a vested interest. You were the defenders of the health service.