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Ward boards include extra info on action to be taken on staffing

North Lincolnshire and Goole Foundation Trust says it has gone “a step further” when it comes to displaying information about nursing staff levels by showing action taken to deal with shortfalls.

The trust, which runs hospitals in Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole, is using special boards to show staffing levels in line with new government rules requiring all hospitals to display data on each ward.

“There is an escalation plan on the side of the board which shows what action is being taken”

Jo Loughborough

Guidance published last month said trusts must display the number of nurses planned for each shift and the number actually on duty.

But North Lincolnshire and Goole said that in addition to the basics, its boards also gave details of what was being done to deal with any staff shortages.

“Our boards don’t just show how many staff we have and should have on the wards, they show what we’re doing about it if we have fallen short on that shift,” explained Jo Loughborough, patient experience practitioner at the trust.

“There is an escalation plan on the side of the board which shows what action is being taken, whether that’s a review of activity on the ward with a senior nurse, a request for additional resources or asking for one of the heads of nursing to visit the ward to review the situation.”

Boards are put in prominent places on wards and the nurse in charge of a ward is responsible for filling them in every day.

Chief nurse Karen Dunderdale said the boards had been welcomed by staff, because “they know we are getting the right numbers of right skill mix of staff on the wards”.

Karen Dunderdale

Karen Dunderdale

“Displaying the escalation plan also gives both staff and patients that assurance that senior nursing staff are taking the staffing levels seriously and dealing with any shortfalls that may arise,” she said.

The boards have already attracted the attention of senior NHS leaders, including England’s chief nursing officer Jane Cummings who described them on Twitter as a “fab example of open reporting”.

However, some nursing experts have called for even more information to be openly displayed to patients and the public, including information on nurse to patient ratios.

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