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NHS given guidelines on minimum nursing numbers

Patients who receive poor standards of nursing care while in hospital should be able to prompt an investigation into whether or not there are enough staff on their ward, new NHS guidance suggests.

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NHS wards 'should have two working nurses at all times'

NHS wards should have two trained nurses working on them at all times if patients are to be looked after properly, according to fresh guidelines published by the National Institute for Health And Care Excellence (NICE).

Every ward needs a minimum of two qualified nurses, NICE said. Credit: PA

However, NICE stopped short of proposing a minimum for all NHS hospitals to adopt and instead said staff numbers were part of a series of "red flags" patients' relatives should watch out for.

These include patients not being helped on a visit to the bathroom, not receiving their medication or delays of 30 minutes or more in providing pain relief.

NICE also warned a shortfall of 25% of the nurses normally needed for a shift should serve as a red flag to relatives.

If these red flag events are highlighted by a patient or staff member then the nurse in charge of the ward should act "immediately" to ensure that there are enough staff on the ward, Nice said.

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