ITV News Presenter Mary Nightingale asked the Royal College of Nursing chief Dr Peter Carter what was so "stupid" about plans for trainee nurses to work as healthcare assistants.
He said the problem with poor care was caused by low levels of staff and overwhelming workloads for nurses.
The government has been defending plans to force trainee nurses to work as healthcare assistants, after the head of the Royal College of Nursing called them "really stupid."
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has insisted the government will press ahead, saying they are the "right thing to do" in the wake of the Mid Staffordshire Hospital Scandal. Rupert Evelyn reports on the escalating row over patient care.
As the government and nursing unions fight over how best to improve care, ITV News asked viewers to share their experiences.Read the full story ›
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.
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.