The top hospital trusts in England have agreed to use a toolkit that details exactly what nursing establishment they need for safe hospital wards.
The 10 chief executives of the Shelford Group, which comprises England’s largest and most prestigious teaching and research hospitals, have signed up to use the Safer Nursing Care Tool to determine safe nurse staffing levels.
The 10 trusts collectively employ over 83,000 people with a turnover of more than £7bn.
The tool recommends appropriate staffing levels based on patients’ sickness and dependency for medical wards. Plans are also underway to develop similar tools for A&E departments, acute medical units and other specialty wards.
The original version was created six years ago by University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust chief nurse Professor Katherine Fenton and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust chief nurse Professor Hilary Chapman.
It uses evidence from 1,000 best practice wards, covering 119,000 interventions delivered to almost 2,800 patients over two years.
Speaking to Nursing Times, Professor Fenton said: “If the tool is used as intended it will give acute trusts what they need in terms of nurse staffing, based on the acuity and dependency of the patients. Lots of trusts are already using the tool.”
She added that she could not see how some trusts could be considering reducing the nursing workforce given the increasingly complex patients. She highlighted that her trust planned to recruit 500 nurses and healthcare assistants.
Professor Fenton told Nursing Times the link between staff numbers and patient care was clear. “We have to use evidence based tools that calculate what level of staffing you need and you can’t go below that level, it’s as simple as that,” she said.
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