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Safe staffing tools and hotline to be introduced in Scotland

A hotline for Scottish NHS staff to raise concerns is to be trialed and it will become mandatory for employers to use a new suite of workforce planning tools to ensure staffing levels are safe, ministers have announced.

Scottish health secretary Alex Neil said last week that health boards would be required to use a set of online programmes designed to ensure hospitals and communities have the “right numbers and mix of nursing staff”.

He said the workload and workforce tools are evidence based and were designed in partnership with the Royal College of Nursing. They are already being used in some parts of Scotland but will be made mandatory in all health board areas from next April.

Mr Neil said: “We want to make sure that the right mix and numbers of staff are working in our hospitals and communities and these tools, designed in partnership with the RCN, will do just that.

“it is vital that changes continue to be led by in-depth and rigorous planning so we can make sure that the right numbers of the right staff group are working in the right place.”

RCN Scotland Director Theresa Fyffe said: “The pressure on the nursing workforce to deliver high-quality, person-centred care is greater than ever and it’s in everyone’s interests to get workforce planning right and that all decisions are taken in partnership.

“We support the workforce tools as a means to determine staffing levels, rather than making workforce decisions solely on the basis of affordability.”

Meanwhile, Mr Neil also announced last week that a confidential phone line for staff to raise concerns would be piloted in the spring of 2013 for 12 months. The line will be known as the National Confidential Alert Line.

It will be delivered by an independent organisation to ensure confidentiality and impartiality. Any concerns that NHS Scotland employees raise will be passed on to the relevant regulatory organisation for investigation.

Mr Neil said: “It is vitally important that NHS workers feel safe enough to raise any concerns they may have and I will not tolerate any bullying in our NHS.”

Readers' comments (5)

  • why only Scotland. Nurses have been raising concerns about poor staffing levels and inadequate skill mix across the country. This is something that needs to be addressed urgently and rectified. We don't need to gather any more evidence, the evidence is already there - how the CQC can say a hospital is compliant with staffing levels when they are clearly not is very confusing.

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  • if there are no mandatory staffing levels then how can anyone decide if there are enough staff or not?

    you can have your 1-7 ratio but out of those 4 trained staff you can have one in the office all shift, one who is new and not drug assessed, leaving only two to do a lot of stuff.

    a lot of these things are just paper exercises.

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  • we had a tool back in the 80's called 'Monitor' which based staffing levels on patient dependency levels. It didn't last long as it highlighted more staff were needed to provide adequate care, thus more expensive!!

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  • Sister in my ward told us she had used a tool to establish that we were adequately staffed after we complained about not being able to meet basic standards when patient dependency was very high I asked her about patient dependency and she told me that it did not factor in the tool . For god sake give me a break how can it not what bloody good is the tool if the patient doesn't factor . We need proper patient and staff support now .

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  • It is clear from various recent reports and feedback from staff within the UK that inadequate staffing levels have been present for sometime. There is a matter of urgency that staffing levels are reviewed and based on patient need.

    Also, skill-mix, management staffing levels, in-service education needs reviewing within the UK on a regular basis.

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