Hospital trust defends patient-to-nurses ratio increase
- Credit: Archant
Hospital chiefs have defended their decision to raise the patient-to-nurse ratio despite staff concerns over safety.
University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Trust (UHBW) has increased the number of patients assigned to each nurse in general wards from six (1:6) to 10 (1:10) during the day.
This new ratio, which applies at the BRI and Weston General Hospital, has gone up during night shifts from 1:8 to 1:12, sparking alarm that the level is dangerously high.
The ratios are higher than those recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which says 'people are at risk of harm in wards where there is one nurse for eight or more patients'.
But trust bosses say it is only a temporary measure and was introduced so more nurses could care for coronavirus patients on ventilators.
It comes as a surge in Covid-19 admissions has forced many operations to be cancelled at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, with the number of inpatients now exceeding those seen during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring.
Last month it was reported that staff were worried about the changes, with one employee saying it could lead to unnecessary deaths.
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UHBW chief executive Robert Woolley told a trust board meeting on November 27 that patients benefited from being placed on ventilators without them needing full intensive care.
He said: “Because we’ve seen such an increase in the number of patients needing non-invasive ventilation, we have actually increased the nursing-to-patient ratio in order to provide safe, non-invasive ventilation.
“But in order to do that when there are very few temporary agency staff available to fill gaps, we have had to dilute the gold standard ratio we were working to of one in six in the day and one in eight at night on our general wards to one in 10 and one in 12 respectively.
“I know that has created some concern across the trust but it has been done as a very temporary measure in a very considered way taking account of the balance of safety risks for patients and staff right across the trust.”