The Adventures of Ninja Phil – Ep 6 – Safe Staffing Levels


Blog #16 - 20.05.2014

And so the Incredible H’s weakness is revealed. And what do you expect; she is a nurse after all. Consequently she struggles to deal with anymore than 8 pirates (or any other adversary) at one time. For those of you who saw the recent draft NHS guidelines from from NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) this will come as no surprise. If you didn’t, check out the article on the BBC:

The report states that although there is “no magic number” for staffing levels and that things should be adapted to the needs of the patients, in most circumstances there should be at least 1 nurse for every 8 patients on a ward. If the ratio is any higher it puts patients at risk.

Now I know everyone will have an opinion on the matter (the comment section on the BBC article being proof of this), but as far as I’m concerned it’s about time and I believe the recommendations should be more than that. I think the words of the former NHS trust chairman Rob Lilley really sum it up (taken from the above quoted article):

“If you go on holiday and you fly, the steward to passenger ratio is prescribed in law. If you leave your kids at a creche, the carer to kids ratio is prescribed in law. If you got to a football ground, the steward to spectator ratio is prescribed in law. But if you leave your granny in a hospital ward, it’s left to one of Gillian Leng’s [of NICE] red flags.”

I think the fact is that we’ve all heard stories of sub-standard hospital care. I think it would be naive of us to think that such care is not sometimes the product of individual nurses not doing their job. The various care for the elderly scandals that have been unearthed recently are evidence that some people just don’t make very good nurses, just like some people don’t make good soldiers or teachers or whatever else. I don’t think that’s an excuse however and I think if you’ve chosen nursing as a profession then the care of patients should be your priority. But I digress.

Nevertheless, I feel that in many, if not most cases, the cause of sub-standard care is to do with workload. In conversations with those I know in the profession of nursing (of any kind) it becomes apparent just how overworked they actually are. You hear stories of how a nurse needs to move a patient in their bed, a job that normally requires two people, but there’s no else around who can help and they are forced to do it by themselves. Or you hear stories of how, in order to fit all the patients in on their rounds, they have to rush through tasks which they should take more time over so that at least all the patients get some care rather some getting none.

The worst part about it is that the problem lies at the feet of Hospital management to some extent and at the feet of the those who hold the Hospital’s purse strings. But in the case of substandard care (resulting from under staffed wards as opposed to those few nurses who don’t do their job) it’s not Hospital management or those above them that get it in the neck, it’s the nurses themselves who have to put with the (sometimes justified) complaining and (never justified) abuse.

So I proclaim this week give a nurse a hug/high five/hand shake (whatever you feel comfortable with) week. Let them know that we think they’re doing a great job and let’s all hope this NICE report is the start of better working conditions for nurses and subsequently and most importantly better care for patients.


I’m not finished yet (sorry), but if you’ve got this far please keep reading as this is important. I recently found out about a fantastic opportunity, which I’ll be making the most of, to raise some money for the charity Macmillan Cancer Support. For those of you who don’t know (and it’s not come up in the blog before) I’m a tabletop wargamer. This week I came across a fellow blogger and wargamer whose Mum has been diagnosed with cancer and has received support for Macmillan nurses.

It is his intention to organise something he’s termed WAAC (Wargamers Against All Cancer). Over the August bank holiday weekend, it’s proposed that we all take part in 24hrs of gaming (wargaming, board games, whatever you fancy) to raise money for Macmillan. I’ve already pledged that I’ll be getting involved and just wanted to encourage you all to do something as well. Here’s a link to the original post – he explains it better than I can:

Even if you’re thinking I’m not really interested in gaming, you can always just give a few pounds in support of this event at the following Just Giving page. You can also support the event by getting involved or letting as many people know about it as possible. It’s a great cause and I hope one that we can support.

It’s all fitting really considering today’s post about Nursing. Luckily for the Incredible H, Ninja Phil turned up and balanced the equation (although ironically thinking about it now, because of Ninja Phil and the Incredible H the hospital now has 11 more patients and 1 less nurse :S). Come back next week to discover whether or not Ninja Phil can catch Garrick and discover Captain Jimbo’s true intentions and be prepared as soon we’ll be heading to Headingley to met Ninja Phil’s second friend.



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