Minimum Staffing Levels Recommended for Elderly Care Nursing (BBC News / RCN)


The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has conducted a survey of nurses and found that care of the elderly is compromised in UK hospitals because of there being too few nurses.

Responding to a wave of reports from the CQC, Age UK, and the Patients’ Association which criticised poor standards of elderly nursing care in the NHS, the RCN has called for minimum staffing levels to ensure standards improve. It suggests that there should be one nurse for every seven patients, based on a review of practice internationally.

RCN researchers surveyed nearly 1,700 nurses, 240 working on wards with older patients, and found almost all aspects of care was impaired; including basic communication, helping people with eating and drinking, and care for the dying. Refer to the RCN report.

Older people’s wards typically have only had one nurse for every nine patients on average, yet general wards tend to have at 6.7 patients per nurse, and children’s wards typically have 4.2 patients per nurse. ideally the RCN recommends there should be one registered nurse for every five to seven patients in NHS hospitals. Employers disagree…

Read more: BBC News: Low staffing levels ‘harms elderly care’.


Triggle, N. (2012). Low staffing levels ‘harms elderly care’. London: BBC Health News, March 20th 2012.

2019 RCN UK Policy Report

Safe staffing levels:

Full Text Link


Hadden, C. Harris, C. [and] Kiely, S. [et al] (2020). Staffing for Safe and Effective Care in the UK. 2019 UK policy report: Reviewing the progress of health and care systems against our principles. London: Royal College of Nursing (RCN), January 31st 2020.

An earlier RCN England policy report:

Full Text Link


Borneo, A. [and] Hadden, C. (2019). Standing up for patient and public safety: staffing for safe and effective care in England. London: Royal College of Nursing (RCN), October 2019.

About Dementia and Elderly Care News

Dementia and Elderly Care News. Wolverhampton Medical Institute: WMI. (jh)
This entry was posted in Acute Hospitals, BBC News, For Nurses and Therapists (mostly), In the News, National, NHS, Practical Advice, Proposed for Next Newsletter, Quick Insights, RCN, Standards, UK, Universal Interest and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.