Accident and Emergency – departments understaffed – report suppressed

Report shows why A&Es lack nurses 021/01/2016 article from Doctorsnet

A&E departments may suffer repeated nursing shortages because of systems used to determine numbers, according to a leaked document.

The report, compiled for the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence, suggests that departments may be short of staff 50% of the time because of the error.

According to the report, which was intended to be published as guidelines, staffing levels are based on historical data.

It says these predictions should be adjusted upwards by one standard deviation – and that this would reduce periods of excess demand to 15%.

The report is one of several draft guidelines compiled by NICE for an abandoned project on nurse staffing levels and obtained by the Health Service Journal.

It said that it was now common for A&E departments to be overcrowded and this was “linked to poor outcomes such as increased waiting times and missed care.”

The guideline would have instructed trust boards to review A&E nurse staffing levels once every six months.

Donna Kinnair, from the Royal College of Nursing, said: “These guidelines were put together by experts, looking at strong evidence who found a very clear relationship between the number of registered nurses and patient care.

“The evidence for the importance of having the right number of nurses, and the right ratio of nurses to health care assistants, would have led to new recommendations and guidance on the safe range of nurse staffing levels.

“These recommendations would have exposed shortages, and this would have had financial consequences. It is concerning that these consequences may have been a factor in the decision to scrap this important work.”

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