Since 1967 the gold standard for nurse staffing levels in intensive care and subsequently critical care units has been one nurse for each patient. However, critical care has changed substantially since that time and in recent years this standard has been challenged. Previously individual nursing organisations such as the British Association of Critical Care Nurses (BACCN) and the Royal College of Nursing have produced guidance on staffing levels for critical care units. This paper represents the first time all three UK Professional Critical Care Associations have collaborated to produce standards for nurse staffing in critical care units. These standards have evolved from previous works and are endorsed by BACCN, Critical Care Networks National Nurse Leads Group (CC3N) and the Royal College of Nursing Critical Care and In-flight Forum. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the much more detailed document ‘Standards for Nurse Staffing in Critical Care’, which can be found on the BACCN web site at www.baccn.org.uk. The full paper has extensively reviewed the evidence, whereas this short paper provides essential detail and the 12 standard statements.