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CSP calls for NICE guidance on safe NHS staffing levels to include physiotherapists

16 July 2014 - 12:31pm

CSP chief executive Karen Middleton has called for guidance on staffing levels for nurses to be broadened to physiotherapy staff and other healthcare workers.


Karen Middleton: 'We need to ensure adequate funding to enable NHS staff to deliver the safe and effective services that patients deserve.' Photo: David Harrison

She was responding to guidance published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellent (NICE) on 15 July, which is intended to ensure safe nurse staff levels on hospital wards in England.

The document says no single staffing ratio can apply across the wide range of wards in the NHS. It concludes, however, that when a registered nurse is caring for more than eight patients this is a signal to check that patients are not at risk of harm.

‘As NICE acknowledges in its guidance, it should not just be about rigid numbers, as patients will have different needs based on their condition,’ said Ms Middleton.

‘But underlying all of this is the need to ensure there is adequate funding to enable NHS staff to deliver the safe and effective services that patients deserve.’

Both the Francis inquiry and the Berwick report on patient safety raised the issue of staffing levels. The Francis report explicitly linked inadequate staffing levels at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust to poor patient care.

In an interim response to the Francis report issued last year, the CSP said that the right level of physiotherapy staffing was crucial to safe and effective patient care. Physiotherapists enable patients to make a rapid recovery and be discharged from hospital as soon as possible, it said.

Delayed discharge, partly due to insufficient physiotherapy staff to provide rehabilitation, was a common problem in many hospitals, the response said.

Focus on patient outcomes

Sally Gosling, the CPS’s assistant director of practice and development, called for an approach that places a stronger emphasis on patient outcomes and benefit, rather than focusing on inputs and tasks.

‘It is imperative that implementation of the guidance doesn't distract from ensuring the delivery of good quality, compassionate care and the fulfilment of changing population needs via new service models,’ she said.

‘As part of this, there needs to be recognition of the essential contributions of a diversity of professions and roles within multi-disciplinary teams.’

Together with other health unions and the TUC, the CSP is continuing to campaign for more investment in the NHS and NHS staff as a central requirement of safe, quality services.

It recommends that members should contact their workplace CSP steward if they have concerns about staff shortages affecting safety and the quality of services.

NICE said that publication of the guidance followed trials of its recommendations in more than 100 hospital wards in 14 hospitals.

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