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Staffing levels unsafe for four years running

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Nurses often work overtime Nurses often work overtime

Unsafe levels of nursing staff have put patient care at risk and very little has improved in the last four years, according to a survey by Unison.

The annual Unison survey (Red alert – unsafe staffing levels rising) was filled out by more than 5000 nursing staff across the UK on 10 February representing a typical working day in the NHS. Just over 10% of the respondents identified themselves as working in community settings and around 4% worked in GP surgeries. Many of the nurses working in community settings were based in community mental health including CAMHS and early intervention teams.

Almost half of those surveyed revealed that there had been inadequate staff numbers to deliver safe care for patients. This is despite 70% working through their breaks on that day to make up for the lack of staff.

Nearly half of those who responded thought that staffing levels had got worse since May 2010.

Unison head of health Christina McAnea, said: 'Unison has carried out this survey for four years and it is deeply worrying that little has changed. Staff are still not able to see all of their patients – despite working through their breaks and doing lots of unpaid overtime.'

NICE will begin a consultation on safe staffing levels in the community in November 2015, with an anticipated publication date of March 2016. Safe staffing guidance for mental health in the community will be published in July 2016 and guidelines for learning disabilities in the community will be published in October 2016.

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