Understaffed hospitals must take action to address workforce issues “as a matter of urgency”, the government will say today.
Nursing Times has obtained a “confidential draft” of a document on staffing levels, which is set to be a major part of the government’s full response to the Francis report.
As revealed by Nursing Times last week, the How To guide sets out a series of expectations that hospital boards must comply with, including ensuring effective escalation policies are in place so that vacancies on shifts are filled.
It also says boards should take into account the other responsibilities of nurses – such as mentoring and continuing professional development – when working out how many staff their organisation needs.
Most of the expectations are considered current best practice, but the document acknowledges that not all organisations will be meeting them.
It states: “Where this is the case, we expect boards to identify as a matter of urgency the actions that could be taken to meet these expectations.”
MPs on the Commons’ health select committee recently recommended that all trusts follow the example of Salford Royal Foundation Trust. It displays information about how many nursing staff should be on a shift alongside how many are actually present.
The How To guide says providers should clearly display information about “nurses, midwives and care staff” present on a shift. However, it makes no mention of displaying the numbers required.
Other expectations state that boards must “foster a culture of professionalism and responsiveness, where staff feel able to raise concerns”, and that directors of nursing must work on setting staffing levels with their fellow directors in medicine, finance, human resources and operations.
The document also says commissioners must play a role by assuring themselves that service providers have sufficient nursing capacity and says NHS England will incorporate “relevant elements” into next year’s NHS Standard Contract.
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