Patients one fifth more likely to die in hospitals with fewer qualified nurses

NHS plans to give nursing tasks to cheaper assistants are a “risky experiment,” researchers have warned – after a study found patients could be a fifth more likely to die in such circumstances.

Ministers have announced 2,000 nursing associate roles across England, with the first 1,000 due to start training from next month.

Controversially, they will be given jobs currently only done by registered nurses, including administering controlled drugs and carrying out some invasive procedures.

The new research suggests that diluting the skill mix – especially in England, which already has one of the lowest ratios of qualified nurses to other staff – could put lives at risk.

Researchers tracked almost 300,000 patients from 32 NHS hospital trusts in England, as well as hospitals in Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Spain and Switzerland. For every 25 patients, substituting just one qualified nurse for a lower-qualified member of staff was associated with a 21 per cent rise in the odds of dying.

Full story in The Telegraph 16 November 2016