The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has outlined its views on the minimum essential requirements for children's nurses to deliver safe care in a new document.
It is now calling on individual children's nurses to support this set of standards and to raise any concerns they may have about safe staffing and the skill mix in operation at their current facility.
In order to provide health services for babies, children and young people, the RCN believes that it is vital that there is a clear ratio for registered to unregistered nurses. This includes those in all types of children's services, whether they are commissioned by the NHS, third sector or independent sector providers.
These would help to clarify the current guidelines and should help contribute to the best and safest possible care for children and young people.
Commenting on the report, RCN chief executive and general secretary Dr Peter Carter urged nurses, managers and healthcare providers to take responsibility to help ensure that patients receive high quality care and that safe staffing levels are maintained.
Dr Carter explained: "Children's services are increasingly complex and our members have consistently raised the importance of identifying the safe minimum staffing level and skill mix across all settings, particularly at a time when many health and public services are facing financial challenges."
He went on to recommend: "Children requiring provision for end-of-life care should receive 24-hour community children's nursing care wherever and whenever this is required. Unfortunately, in many parts of the country, this is not available and countless children die in hospital settings, rather than at home."
Among the core standards set out by the RCN are the recommendation that there is a minimum 70:30 ratio of registered to unregistered staff and that 70 per cent of nurses should have additional specific training required for the speciality they are working in.
Where these services exist, there should be access to a senior children's nurse for advice at all times and a minimum of two registered children's nurses should be present at all times in the inpatient and day care areas.
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