Berwick report: Jeremy Hunt warned over danger of understaffed NHS wards after Mid Staffs scandal
The danger of understaffed NHS wards can no longer be ignored, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was warned, as another high profile figure review highlighted the urgent need for clear rules on safe staffing levels.
Professor Don Berwick said in his long-awaited report into safety in the NHS, that new guidance to protect patients against "the dangers of inadequate staffing" needed to be set up "as soon as possible."
However, Mr Hunt said that setting national minimum safe staffing levels would create an "artificial target" and harm patient care.
Nursing leaders and patient groups have called for national minimum nurse-to-patient ratios, and Robert Francis called for nationally recognised tools for setting safe levels of staffing in his landmark review into failings at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust. However, the Government is yet to act on the recommendations. ...
... "All the experts are now telling the Government to get a grip on staffing levels," said shadow health sectary Andy Burnham. "David Cameron must now urgently intervene to ensure safe staffing levels in our hospitals."
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing said: "This is the latest in a series of thorough reports by well-respected experts which is urging a focus on having the right number of registered nurses and support staff to care for patients."
Professor Berwick's report also contained a recommendation for "a new general offence of wilful or reckless neglect or mistreatment applicable to both organisations and individuals." Sanctions under the new law would include disqualification from future leadership roles, public reprimand and in extreme cases, financial sanctions for organisations and up to five years in prison for individuals. ...