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Patient care is not about numbers, says NHS Employers CEO Royles

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The NHS should not be forced into setting minimum levels of nurse numbers to ensure a higher level of patient care, NHS Employers CEO Dean Royles said yesterday.

Speaking at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s Talent, Recruitment and Employment Conference 2014, Royles said the NHS needed to “pay less attention to the numbers”.
 
He said that despite the debate in the press over minimum staffing levels of nurses, patient safety is about more than just numbers.
 
“We know good service is about more than numbers of staff,” he said. “Pathways of care have got to change. We need a different mix of skills.”
 
He used the example of a ward where nurses are supported by a workforce of housekeeping and administrative staff, as well as other health experts like physiotherapists and speech therapists, compared to a ward with more nurses but no support staff.
 
He said it was wrong that “that [ward] doesn’t have the same innovations, but is judged as more effective”.
 
“We could easily hire more nurses at the expense of other staff groups, but it’s the wrong thing to do to improve patient care,” he added. “Give us a target in the NHS and we will hit it – we might miss the point but we will hit the target.”
 
Royles added the NHS leadership was learning from the devastating Mid Staffordshire report and focusing on “creating a culture of compassionate care” to meet the huge challenges ahead of caring for the UK’s ageing population.
 
“We have got to get the leadership task right as well as the leadership style,” he said.
 
Read Royles’ HR magazine blog on why minimum staffing levels are wrong.