A survey of NHS nurses has found that more than half believe their ward or unit is understaffed to a degree that constitutes a danger to patients.
The poll, conducted by the Nursing Times, received responses from almost 600 nurses and addressed issues such as staffing levels, quality of care and patient safety.
Three-quarters of respondents said they have witnessed examples of "poor care", while 57 per cent said their ward or unit is always or sometimes dangerously understaffed.
Almost a third (30 per cent) of those who have witnessed poor care said it is a regular occurrence.
The survey suggests the ratio of staff to patients is rising, with 85 per cent of those who work on general wards stating there are usually eight or more patients per nurse. For 44 per cent, the ratio is commonly above ten to one.
Howard Catton, head of policy at the Royal College of Nursing, told the BBC that strict rations such as those relating to children per staff member in nursery schools should be implemented.
"We should have clear national guidance on what safe staffing levels are. One registered nurse to eight patients is getting into very risky territory, it should be around one in five," he added.
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