Patients' needs for nursing care have been studied in internal medicine departments in Israel. The needs in regard to ambulation, bathing, feeding, toilet and certain treatments were analysed for three standards of hospitals: university, central and peripheral. Considerable differences were found between the rates for these groups of hospitals as well as among individual hospitals and even among parallel departments in the same hospital. On average for all surveyed departments, 54·4% of the hospitalization days were of selfcare patients, 32·0% of intermediate patients and 13·6% of bedfast, highly dependent patients.

A comparison with similar studies in New Zealand and Switzerland showed that patients in medical departments in Israel are less dependent on nursing care than in the other countries.

Findings of this study stress that allocation of nursing manpower proportionally to the number of beds does not meet objective needs and is inequitable. Real needs of the patients should serve as a basis for allocation of personnel. Part of the nursing personnel should be ‘floating’, with a possibility of directing them daily to different departments according to priorities.