Fewer nurses means more patient deaths

A study has shown that there is a direct link between the number of nurses working on a ward and the chances of a patient's survival or recovery.

Increased mortality with fewer nurses
The study, published in the International Journal of Nursing, surveyed nearly 4,000 nurses working in 30 hospital trusts in England. The lead researcher, Professor Anne Rafferty, found that there was a 26 per cent higher patient mortality rate in those wards that had a lower nurse to patient ratio.

Professor Rafferty emphasised that where the nurse to patient ratio is low, the nurses on these wards are 71 to 92 per cent more likely to ‘burn out’ and become dissatisfied with their jobs. These nurses were more likely to report a low or deteriorating quality of care on their wards.

Prof Rafferty said: ‘We calculate that some 246 fewer deaths would have occurred in these 30 trusts had all the patients been treated in hospitals with the most favourable staffing levels. The number of lives that could potentially be saved through investments in nursing throughout NHS hospitals could be thousands every year.’

This new research supports similar research undertaken in the US.

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