One in four NHS hospitals routinely fails to take enough nurses on the road to keep patients safe, says a damning report.
Experts warn that the lessons from the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal have been forgotten during a desperate personnel crisis in the Health Service.
The 224-page report, funded by the NHS research department, concluded that patients are routinely cared for in nursing units that are at & # 39; high risk & # 39; staff level.
The report also warned that healthcare assistants – who do not have the same training as registered nurses – are used to support the lack of fully qualified staff.
One in four NHS hospitals routinely fails to set up enough nurses to keep patients safe, says a damning report.
The 224-page report, funded by the NHS research team, concluded that patients are routinely cared for in nursing units that are at & # 39; high risk & # 39; staffing levels are left behind
The assessment, conducted by Southampton University, said a 40,000 shortage of registered nurses across England meant that hospitals found it impossible to safely staff their departments. This has led to & # 39; a gradual dilution of the national safe personnel policy & # 39 ;.
The 2013 Francis Inquiry found that insufficient staff contributed to the crisis at the Mid Staffordshire hospital, where hundreds of patients are suspected to have died as a result of neglect between 2005 and 2009.
The NHS watchdog NICE then advised that a level of more than eight patients per registered nurse should initiate a staffing assessment.
But the government stopped making the recommendation for mandatory minimum staffing, leaving it to individual NHS trusts to set their own staffing needs.
The new report, which questioned 91 directors of nurses in NHS trusts, said: & # 39; One in four counselors reported that the number of patients per registered nurse in the last 12 months had exceeded 65 percent of shifts from 1: 8. & # 39;
Lead author Professor Jane Ball said: “The continuing national shortage of registered nurses, and the insufficient increase in supply, has not been addressed. This failure has ensured that safe staffing is achieved.
& # 39; NICE has identified a ratio of eight patients per registered nurse as a level that threatens patient safety. But in our survey of nursing staff, one in four reported departments routinely ran with this high level of risk. & # 39;
Her team said that hospitals face major challenges in recruiting and retaining registered nurses, with an average vacancy rate of 10 percent across the country. Some hospitals have a shortage of nurses of 20 percent.
The review, conducted by Southampton University, said a 40,000 shortage of registered nurses across England meant that hospitals found it impossible to safely staff their departments
The report warned of a & # 39; dilution & # 39; of skills in departments, because care workers are used to fill the gaps.
It said that the number of full-time equivalent nurses in NHS trusts has increased by 10 percent since 2013 – but there has been a 30 percent increase in healthcare assistants and support staff. & # 39; The disproportionate increase in the number of support staff has led to a slight reduction in the skills mix & # 39; said the report.
& # 39; Registered nurses account for 66 percent of nursing staff in 2017 compared to 69 percent in 2013. & # 39;
A 2016 study, also by Southampton University, warned that for every 25 patients, replacement of only one qualified nurse by a lower qualified staff member was associated with a 21 percent increase in the risk of dying.
Professor Ball added: & # 39; The inability to train enough registered nurses to meet patient needs is a fundamental error. & # 39; She said that trusts had been left behind with a clear vision of safe staff, but without sufficient resources – in terms of registered nurses – to make it happen.
Patricia Marquis, of the Royal College of Nursing, said: & # 39; Mid Staffordshire showed us the nasty consequences of food shortages and yet those precious lessons are so quickly forgotten. & # 39;
A health ministry spokesperson said: & # 39; The quality assurance committee requires that all health care providers have sufficient staff and our long-term plan describes how we will ensure that the NHS remains the safest health care system in the world.
& # 39; There are more than 15,800 more nurses in the departments since 2010, 52,000 more in training and we are improving employee retention by promoting flexibility, well-being and career development. & # 39;
The Francis Inquiry from 2013 pointed to insufficient staffing as a contribution to the crisis at the Mid Staffordshire hospital, in which hundreds of patients would have died as a result of neglect between 2005 and 2009