RCN congress

Congress members set to vote on emergency safe staffing resolution

Thousands of nurses at RCN congress in Bournemouth will be asked to vote tomorrow on an emergency resolution calling for the college's council to lobby against the 'deplorable' decision to suspend the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence's work on safe staffing guidance.

The resolution, submitted by the RCN public health forum, urges members to vote on a resolution worded: 'This meeting of the RCN congress deplores the decision to halt the current work by NICE on safe staffing and calls for RCN council to lobby for the reversal of this decision that puts patients at risk'.

Nursing leaders reacted with dismay to the announcement by NICE earlier this month that it will shelve its work on safe staffing for A&E, community and mental health settings. The announcement came after NHS England said it would look at staffing in these settings as part of its national reviews of these areas. NICE guidance on adult inpatient wards, which was published in June 2014, will continue to be used.

The programme of safe staffing guidance was commissioned by the Department of Health following a recommendation by Sir Robert Francis in his 2013 report into care failings at Stafford Hospital. Sir Robert's report linked appalling care to chronic understaffing.

Leading nurse academics, including the University of Southampton's Jane Ball, and unions are among those who have slammed the decision to halt NICE as a 'backward' step.