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NICE decides against publishing A&E staffing levels

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has decided not to publish work on safe staffing in emergency care 

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has dropped plans to publish its safe staffing guidance for A&E departments, due out this week.

The U-turn comes just weeks after NICE said it would go ahead and publish its conclusions, despite halting its programme of safe staffing guidance.

The move has been met with dismay, with thousands of nurses who attended the RCN congress in Bournemouth backing a call to push for a reversal of the decision. 

Safe staffing work, which included work already completed but unpublished on A&E, was shelved after NHS England said it would be taking over the project.  

The following week NICE announced it would go ahead and publish its A&E work - even though it would not be official guidance.

But following an announcement by health secretary Jeremy Hunt earlier this month, that a newly-created body called NHS Improvement will carry out the work with NHS England, NICE has now decided not to publish.

NICE chief executive Andrew Dillon said: 'The conclusions reached by our advisory committee on safe staffing in A&E departments will now become part of a wider review. It is important we do not pre-empt the outcome of the work to be done by NHS Improvement and NHS England by publishing our conclusions at this stage.

'However, we do understand the public interest in our review of the evidence on safe staffing. With this in mind, the Department of Health has confirmed that NHS Improvement will publish our final recommendations later this year, as part of the evidence base for the safe staffing guidelines they are now developing.'

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