Major study will investigate nurse staffing levels and safe care

The University of Southampton will carry out research looking at the link between nurse staffing levels and the failure to observe patients' vital signs

Major research into how the number of nurses has an impact on safe care will be undertaken by the University of Southampton.

The study, which will be carried out at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, will look at the relationship between nurse numbers, failure to observe patients' vital signs and possible consequences such as cardiac arrest.

Researchers will collect data on 32 wards over 100,000 shifts from sources including nurses' handheld devices, a cardiac arrest database, intensive unit admissions and laboratory records.

The trust's deputy director of nursing Debra Elliott said: 'Our participation will enable us to look in unprecedented detail at how staffing levels can impact on patients, and this will be an invaluable learning experience.'

Research lead Peter Griffiths, at the University of Southampton, said: 'Our study will help give a clear picture of the relationship between staff numbers and negative patient outcomes, using data routinely collected on hospital wards during thousands of nursing shifts.

'The potential for inadequate nursing care to do patients great harm has emerged as a factor of several recent reports into failings in NHS hospitals,' added Professor Griffiths. 'These have often noted that staffing levels were an important issue, associated with poor care and deaths that could have been avoided.'

The study is due to be published in December 2017.

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