Patients are at risk if there’s a shortage of trained nurses on wardsIvy Madziva
A study by Southampton University researchers showed that patient survival fell if there was a greater reliance on less-qualified nursing assistants
PATIENTS are more likely to die if there is a shortage of trained nurses on NHS wards, a study reveals.
It found a three per cent rise in the risk of death for each day there was a staffing shortfall.
A study has found that patients have an increased risk of death if there are fewer trained nurses on their ward
Southampton University researchers followed nearly 140,000 patients who spent at least one day on a general or surgical ward. The team found fewer trained nurses than average raised the chances of death.
Patient survival also fell if there was a greater reliance on less-qualified nursing assistants.
Unions claim the NHS currently faces a critical shortage of nurses, with trusts 42,000 posts empty. Experts said using nursing assistants to fill their posts may be “putting lives at risk”.
They warn they lack the skills to intervene when something goes wrong.
There are currently more than 42,000 nursing vacancies waiting to be filled within the NHS
Lead researcher Professor Peter Griffith, from Southampton University, said nursing assistants “cannot act as substitutes” for registered nurses.
He said: “At a time when the NHS is facing increasing difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff, this research reveals the potential consequences of shortages of registered nurses in terms of the negative impact on patient safety. Assistant staff are an important part of the team but adding more of them is not the solution.”
The study is published in the journal BMJ Quality and Safety. Previous research has found nine in 10 nurses claim they leave tasks unfinished at the end of their shift because they are so rushed.
Consultant Physician Dr Paul Schmidt, from Southampton University, said the NHS desperately needs more nurses.
He said: “We need to improve the supply of registered nurses because shortages can cause great harm to patients and we can’t fix it by increasing the numbers of lesser trained nursing staff in the workforce.”
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We want the NHS to be the safest healthcare system in the world and our dedicated nurses underpin this ambition.
“That’s why there are 11,400 more nurses on our wards since 2010, 52,000 nurses currently in NHS training and we have made more funding available to increase university training places.”
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