A SHORTAGE of doctors and nurses could be the cause of 28,000 preventable deaths a year, according to a Southampton study.

The new research by the University of Southampton has revealed that a shortage in nurses on hospital wards may be leading to thousands of deaths from treatable illnesses, such as blood clots and pneumonia.

The paper on Failure to Rescue looked at cases of 70m patients who had undergone surgery between 1997 and 2009.

It revealed that 28,000 people died with potentially treatable complications each year with eight per cent more likely to die in hospitals with fewer nurses and nine per cent more likely to die in hospital with fewer doctors.

Professor Peter Griffiths, chair of Health Services Research at the University of Southampton, who led the study says: “It is clear from our research that having more nurses on wards is associated with lower rates of 'failure to rescue', but having a higher proportion of doctors compared to nurses in the workforce seems to be even more important. “The ratio of support staff to nurses also shows a negative effect. The more support staff, or untrained nurses, compared to fully-qualified registered nurses, the higher the rates of 'failure to rescue' on the wards.

“It is therefore reasonable to conclude that a lack of appropriate care is a contributing factor to many deaths from treatable complications on hospital wards.”

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