South England hospitals 'failing to meet nurse levels'

Poole Hospital Almost 40% of shifts at Poole Hospital had more health care assistants than nurses on duty

Related Stories

Hospitals in the south of England are failing to provide the recommended number of nursing staff on wards, a BBC investigation has found.

BBC South found 78% of nursing shifts on acute wards were not being staffed to meet agreed Royal College of Nursing (RCN) safe levels.

Among the worst were Poole hospital, where healthcare assistants outnumbered nurses, and the Isle of Wight hospital.

However, the Royal Berkshire Hospital topped the list of best hospitals.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, the BBC asked trusts how many registered nurses and health care assistants were on shift over a 48 hour period.

According to RCN guidelines, a typical acute ward should have one registered nurse for every eight patients, or one per seven on elderly care wards.

'Significant progress'

There should also be a "skill mix" of 65 per cent nurses to 35 per cent health care assistants.

But, 78 per cent of nursing shifts surveyed did not meet this staffing ratio.

When ranked in order of "best" to "worst" in terms of safe staffing, Berkshire and Brighton hospitals came out top and the Isle of Wight and Buckinghamshire were bottom.

At Poole Hospital 38 per cent of shifts had more health care assistants than nurses on duty.

In a statement, Poole Hospital said: "[We] offer safe, high quality care which complies fully with guidelines on staffing levels from NICE, which provides a range of national health care guidance."

Last month, NICE issued staffing guidance, which endorses using "toolkits" to work out safe levels.

However, most hospitals will continue to adhere to the RCN's guidelines.

Alan Sheward, executive director of nursing at St Mary's Hospital, Isle of Wight, said it has made significant progress since the review.

He said: "We are forever striving to make it better."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Dorset

Weather

Bournemouth

11 °C 10 °C

Features

  • photo of patient zero, two year-old Emile OuamounoPatient zero

    Tracking first Ebola victim and and how virus spread


  • A young Chinese girl looks at an image of BarbieBarbie's battle

    Can the doll make it in China at the second attempt?


  • Prosperi in the 1994 MdSLost in the desert

    How I drank urine and bat blood to survive in the Sahara


  • Afghan interpetersBlacklisted

    The Afghan interpreters left by the US to the mercy of the Taliban


  • Flooded homesNo respite

    Many hit by last winter's floods are struggling to pay soaring insurance bills


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.