How many nurses do we need: what does the evidence say?

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Abstract

Authors Peter Griffiths is chair of health services research; Chiara Dall'Ora is research associate; Jane Ball is principal research fellow; all at NIHR CLAHRC Wessex, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southampton.

Abstract There is plenty of research showing that low nurse staffing levels in hospital wards are associated with worse outcomes for patients and staff, but little practical guidance for those who want to set ‘safe’ staffing levels. Much of the evidence comes from health systems that are different to the UK's. This article summarises evidence derived from studies conducted in the NHS. Although the evidence does not give us an optimal ‘safe’ staffing level, it reinforces that a ratio of one registered nurse to eight patients is a level at which risk is known to be increased.

Citation Griffiths P et al (2017) How many nurses do we need: what does the evidence say? Nursing Times; 113: 12, 36-37.

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