The shortage of nursing staff in England is putting patient safety in danger, the Royal College of Nursing warns today as it use the first World Patient Safety Day to launch a new campaign.

The campaign encourages the public to speak out about the impact of England’s 40,000 nurse shortage.

The RCN’s campaign is being launched on the World Health Organisation’s first annual World Patient Safety Day, which aims to ‘create awareness of patient safety and urge people to show their commitment to making healthcare safer’.

It calls for legislation to be brought forward in England to help address the nursing workforce crisis. Earlier this year, nurses and support workers in Scotland secured new legislation on safe staffing levels after a nurse staffing law was introduced in Wales in 2016.

The 2013 Francis Report on failings of care Stafford Hospital concluded that the main factor responsible was a significant shortage of nurses at the hospital. Nurse numbers at NHS acute Trusts across England then increased as managers took steps to try to prevent similar scandals in the future.

But a new analysis by the RCN shows that for every one extra nurse NHS acute Trusts in England have managed to recruit in the five years since 2013/14, there were 157 extra admissions to hospital as emergencies or for planned treatment.

Last year the number of extra admissions for every additional nurse taken on increased to 217. The analysis shows that the extra 9,894 nurses recruited to NHS hospitals since 2013/14 is dwarfed by the additional 1,557,074 admissions over the same period.