NHS hospitals in England are suffering a “dangerous” shortage of nurses, according to new figures published in the Health Service Journal.
A study of 232 hospitals across the country revealed 90 per cent did not meet “safe staffing” levels to cover all daytime shifts, raising concerns the NHS is not equipped to deal with the winter months.
In addition to this, 81 per cent of hospitals failed to meet safe staffing levels during night-time shifts, and 79 per cent missed both daytime and night-time.
According to expert guidelines, there should be a minimum of one nurse for every eight patients, but in some hospitals the ratio was found to be as low as one nurse to 22 patients.
The hospitals with the lowest staffing levels included Ashford Hospital in Surrey, where a quarter of shifts were found to have an unsafe number of nurses, and Rowley Regis and City Hospitals, where the proportion of unsafe shifts were similarly high at 24 per cent and 23 per cent.
In a separate survey of almost 1,000 nurses by The Nursing Times, three quarters said they were forced to leave patients without the care they needed. They described the situation as “relentless” and “exhausting”.
Shadow health minister Justin Madders said: "These figures illustrate the scale of the nurse staffing crisis now engulfing the NHS. The government’s cuts to nurse training places have left hospital wards dangerously understaffed, forcing NHS bosses to waste huge amounts of money on expensive agency staff."