One-to-one nursing care for intensive care patients suspended

The move comes amid rising concerns that hospitals and intensive care units will become overwhelmed.

Laura Townsend
9 November 2020
Nurse Pressing Monitor's Button With Patient Lying On Bed

Intensive care patients are usually cared for by nurses on a one-to-one basis.

Intensive care nurses will be permitted to care for more than one critically unwell Coronavirus patient at a time under new relaxed rules.


According to the Guardian newspaper, NHS England has revised staffing rules which required the sickest intensive care patients to cared for by nurses on a one-to-one basis.

The move comes amid rising concern that hospitals and intensive care units will become overwhelmed with the ever-increasing number of critically unwell Coronavirus patients.

Critical care nurses have taken to social media to express their concerns about the decision. Sarah Taylor, a critical care nurse from the Midlands, told NursingNotes; “There is a reason why we care for patients on a 1:1 basis – they need our undivided attention and we need to monitor them closely for signs of deterioration.

“Having two, or more, critical care patients will only compromise the safety of our patients and lead to a direct increase in mortality rates.”


A temporary measure.

Official figures suggest there are more than 40,000 registered nursing vacancies across the NHS in England alone.

Senior nursing leaders have warned that the move must be a temporary measure and warn it should only be done when “absolutely necessary”.

Susan Masters, the Royal College of Nursing’s Director of Nursing, Policy and Public Affairs, said; “Reducing the ratio of nurses to patients must be a temporary measure and only when it is absolutely necessary.

“We must ensure patient safety at the same time as protecting the wellbeing of the nurses who care for them.


“This change means increasing the workload of intensive care nurses and there must be consideration of the physical and emotional toll this will take.”

A previous decision by NHS England could have seen critical care nurses looking after as many as six Coronavirus patients.

An NHS in crisis.

Anthony Johnson, a nurse and Lead Organisor for Nurses United UK, added; “Our families are going to be put at risk by this Government continuing to force our nurses and doctors to keep delivering elective services when we do not have the capacity to meet the demand this Government caused by taking 6 weeks to start a lockdown.”

“Our NHS is in crisis because they’ve sold off vital services and driven hundreds of thousands of us from jobs we love.”

“Ending electives is the only answer if we’re going to protect our staff and our loved ones and we should all remember who has forced us into this situation instead of enforcing unsafe ratios upon our incredible frontline nurses.”


NHS England declined the Guardians’ request for comment.

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