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We need assurance of safe NHS staffing levels

The RCPE has noted with concern recent reports that NICE has suspended its work into determining safe nurse staffing levels across the NHS, as a result of this work being incorporated into NHS England reviews of services.

Developing and implementing safe staffing levels in the NHS is an important foundation to prevent a recurrence of the serious failings in NHS care highlighted by numerous Inquiries and Reviews since 2000. This included the Francis Report on Mid Staffordshire, which prompted NICE activity in this important area.

The College supported the innovative work underway by NICE to ensure safe nurse staffing levels in the NHS and has recommended to government  that this approach be extended for all healthcare professions in hospitals (including medicine) as a policy priority and that it is essential for ensuring high quality weekend and out of hours care.

Our recommendations regarding appropriate staffing have been endorsed by a number of other professional organisations in a report which is to be published shortly.

The College has written to NHS England and NICE today seeking reassurance that this change in direction will not compromise patient care by delaying the implementation of best practice to meet the changing needs of patients.

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