Experts recommend setting a maximum legal number of patients per nurse, Maggie De Block boots on the sidelines

It is necessary to set up a policy setting a maximum legal number of patients per nurse, and to invest the necessary means there, in order to improve both the working conditions of nurses and the safety of care.“On Thursday concluded a new study by the Federal Center for Expertise in Health Care (KCE), carried out jointly with the KU Leuven.

The survey, conducted among 5000 nurses from 84 hospitals in Belgium, is the reissue of a study published 10 years ago, which already concluded that the maximum quota of patients per nurse in Belgium was too high compared to the international standard. Concretely, the study reveals that nurses working in Belgian hospitals care on average for 9.4 patients (compared to 11 in 2009), while it is generally accepted, at international level, that the safety of patient is no longer insured beyond eight patients per nurse.

If the nursing staff increased in hospital over the last ten years, resulting in a slight decrease in the number of patients per nurse, their number remains insufficient to meet the growing needs for care, points the KCE.

Hiring more staff, a measure deemed urgent by the KCE

The KCE therefore calls initially to increase the workforce by 1,629 full-time equivalents, that is to say an additional annual budget of almost 118 million euros. “This measure should be seen as an emergency measure, and as the absolute minimum of what must be undertaken“, insists the KCE.

In a second step, the KCE recommends setting an optimal number of patients per nurse, per type of service (depending on the intensity of care and the type of pathology) and per team (day / night). “For surgery, internal medicine, geriatrics, revalidation and pediatrics, this reinforcement represents approximately 5,500 full-time nurses, for an additional annual budget of more than 403 million euros“, specifies the KCE.

The center of expertise still advises that non-nursing tasks should be taken on by other professionals, which would allow “increase the attractiveness of the profession, attract more new recruits and decrease the number of dropouts“Chance of the calendar or not, the call of the KCE to increase the nursing staff comes after 2020 has been decreed”international year of nurses“This marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, a leading figure in the profession.

Maggie De Block’s reaction

For Minister of Health Maggie De Block: limiting yourself to injecting money would be like “oil a chain whose links have been incorrectly fitted “.

According to her, it is better to review the allocation of resources according to needs.

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