Most nurses believe that their hospital ward or unit is "dangerously understaffed," a straw poll of hundreds of staff nationwide revealed today.
In the survey of nearly 600 nurses by Nursing Times magazine, six out of 10 described their ward as sometimes or always dangerously understaffed.
And more than three-quarters said that they had witnessed "poor" care in their ward or unit over the past year, of which nearly 30 per cent said they see it regularly.
The magazine quizzed its readers across a range of issues including staffing, patient safety and NHS culture, prior to the publication of the inquiry into the deaths and failings at Mid Staffordshire hospital this week.
The majority of respondents said that the ratio of patients to each nurse at their hospitals could compromise patient care.
The Royal College of Nursing said a ratio of eight or more patients per registered nurse is associated with patient care on a ward regularly being compromised by short staffing.
But despite this, more than eight out of 10 respondents said staffing on general medical wards in an acute hospital was at a ratio of eight patients to one nurse, or more - and of these nearly half said the ratio was 10 or more patients per nurse.
The RCN also recommends a ratio of 65 per cent registered nurses to 35 per cent non-registered nursing staff.
However nearly half of those who worked on general medical wards said that the ratio of registered nurses to unqualified healthcare assistants was either 50-50 or worse - similar to ratios at Stafford Hospital, part of the Mid Staffs trust.
Meanwhile, around a third were not confident they could rule out a similar situation to that which occurred at Mid Staffs happening at their trust.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: "There are more clinical staff working in the NHS now than there were in May 2010, and nearly 2,500 new nurses started working in NHS in October 2012 alone.
"Hospitals are in charge of setting staffing levels but nursing leaders have been clear that they should publish staffing details and the evidence to show the numbers are right and safe for the services they deliver."
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