25% of NHS wards routinely operate at unsafe staffing levels, new report shows

Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire/PA Images

A quarter of NHS wards routinely operate at unsafe staffing levels that threaten the safety of patients, according to a study. Researchers from the University of Southampton said that lessons learned from the Mid Staffordshire scandal in 2013 have been somewhat lost because of a lack of investment in staffing and a chronic shortage of nurses.

Following the Francis Inquiries, which examined the scandal at Mid Staffs where neglect contributed to the death of patients, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended that a level of eight patients per registered nurse should trigger a review of staffing.

But the latest study, which included questioning 91 directors of nursing in NHS trusts, found one in four NHS wards regularly work at this unsafe staffing level.

Nursing numbers have increased since the Mid Staffs inquiry, but the corresponding growth in patient numbers means there has been no improvement in staffing levels.

The Mid Staffordshire scandal was quoted in the study Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire/Press Association Images