The minimum status of any qualified registered nurse is that of staff nurse and he stated that there was "only one staff nurse in the part of the ward I was in". This would imply that the remainder of the staff were unqualified. Some of them may have been student nurses but it is more likely that many of them would be healthcare assistants or nursing auxiliaries.
This may not concern him very much since he was only admitted for minor surgery, but he might have been more concerned had he been receiving treatment for something more serious. The nursing shortage is very real, and we have all become so accustomed to wards being staffed by unqualified staff that we have come to accept this as the norm.
When the extra pairs of hands on the ward were supplied by students, the situation was not quite so dire. Nowadays the bulk of the care in many hospital wards is given by unqualified staff. No matter how caring or hard-working these people may be, the fact remains that there are too few qualified staff to supervise their work adequately.
BARBARA PEARMAN RGN RHV