The need for additional nursing recruitment within the NHS has been highlighted by the Care Quality Commission's (CQC's) fifth annual report on the state of health and care services in England.
An assessment of 40,000 health and care services across the country, the report has observed a high level of excellent care across the NHS, but with a number of regional variations in terms of standards that need to be addressed.
At a time when patient numbers are on the rise, it was found that some services are coping better with increased demand than others. In the adult social care sector, for example, it was observed that more nurses need to be encouraged to work in care homes, due to a current lack of capacity.
In terms of hospitals, the CQC suggested that safety standards require improvement at a lot of sites, while a push towards better management of mental health conditions in particular was emphasised - something that reflects the more stringent system of inspections the regulator has recently put in place for mental health services.
Meanwhile, GP services were evaluated as performing generally well, but the need for a better quality assessment framework was highlighted, as many practices are not currently harnessing the power of user data to improve the standard of services they offer to their patients.
The purpose of highlighting these issues is to ensure patients across the country can be assured of a similar standard of care, regardless of where they live or which service they are using.
CQC chief executive David Behan said: "Care providers must make the basics of safe care a priority and build a culture of safety in their organisations, learning from the best. The principle of keeping people safe from harm is fundamental.
"Strong, effective leadership at all levels in an organisation is vital. Our new inspections have found that good leadership drives up quality and safety overall."
The CQC is the organisation in charge of overseeing quality standards across the NHS. It has made efforts to expand its remit in numerous ways in the last year, including new systems of inspection for GPs, social care providers and dental practitioners.
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