Following the deaths of hundreds of patient due to massive failures in care at the Stafford Hospital and also a governmental review of nursing , ministers are debating whether to set guaranteed levels of staffing. So either a maximum number of patients per nurse or a ratio of healthcare assistants to qualified nurses working on any shift.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is calling for changes as nurses on many wards have become seriously overstretched, with too heavy reliance on cheaper unqualified assistants. This is very visible on wards caring for elderly patients.
Research has found that on wards for the elderly, the average nurse is caring for at least 11 patients - three more than on units which care for general patients.