NICE’s decision to refuse disclosure of safe nurse staffing levels to be reviewed

Tomorrow two of NICE’s non-executive directors will begin reviewing the decision not to disclose the evidence that had been gathered into safe nurse staffing levels. This review is part of an appeal made by HSJ of the decision not to disclose evidence in light of NHS Improvement taking the lead on formulating guidance on safe staffing.

Staffing levels have long been a hot potato in the care industry and it now seems clear that no concrete staffing ratio will be given. The failure to disclose evidence that has already been gathered could be seen to be a waste of public resources. It could also point to conclusions that could be drawn from the evidence that has been gathered which could undermine the future guidance that NHS Improvement will deliver.

It is clear that safe staffing and in particular safe nurse staffing levels is of primary importance to the care sector. It is a complicated area which is determined by patient need which can be location specific. Whatever conclusions that might be drawn from the failure to disclose evidence one point seems clear: NICE and NHS Improvement wish to ensure that only one voice communicates guidance on staffing levels. We will hear that voice this year and it will provide guidance on staffing levels in general terms rather than nurse specific.

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