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NHS Confederation and NHS Employers comment in response to Nursing Times survey re: staffing levels 

The last thing we want is a minimum staffing ratio becoming a ceiling rather than a floor, says director of NHS Employers Dean Royles.

Mike FarrarNHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said:

"If we are to resolve the problems highlighted by the report into Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, we need to take a broad and deep view that looks honestly and openly at all aspects of the NHS, not just one group of staff.

"Whilst it is absolutely the case that good nursing is vital if high quality care is to be delivered everywhere, it is too simple to say this can resolved by throwing more resources at the problem.

"Staffing levels may well be an issue in some parts of some hospitals, but it is not the case that we need more nurses everywhere. A better response would be to ensure we get four things right - the right staffing pattern and skill mix for each service, recruitment of NHS staff based more on their values, better training for nurses at the ward leader level, and ensure nurses operate in organisations that value compassion and care

"It is critical that at a local level, we empower senior clinicians and managers to take greater responsibility for setting high standards of care, including determining the right staffing pattern for delivering these standards for their patients."

Dean Royles

Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation, which is part of the NHS Confederation, added:

"Mandatory staffing levels can not guarantee safe care. We do not believe that imposing a crude system of staffing ratios is the right way to tackle poor care. Each NHS hospital and service has different demands on its services. Arbitrary ratios could limit organisations' ability to plan care in a way that is best for the patient and limits the way we use the skills of other staff like physiotherapists occupational therapists that provide essential care.

"The last thing we want is a minimum standard becoming a ceiling rather than a floor."

Notes to Editors

The NHS Confederation represents all organisations that commission and provide NHS services. It is the only membership body to bring together and speak on behalf of the whole of the NHS. We help the NHS to guarantee high standards of care for patients and best value for taxpayers by representing our members and working together with our health and social care partners.

We make sense of the whole health system, influence health policy and deliver industry-wide support functions for the NHS.

The NHS Employers organisation is the recognised body for employers in the NHS, supporting them to put patients first. See for more information.

Follow the NHS Confederation press office on Twitter @NHSConfed_Press

Follow NHS Employers on Twitter at @nhsemployers or follow Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation, at @NHSE_Dean

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Georgie Agass
020 7799 8637

Mike Foster
020 7799 8671

Francesca Reville
020 7799 8633

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