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Trust bucks trend by hiring nurses

A hospital trust in the West Midlands is bucking the national trend by increasing its number of qualified nurses in a bid to improve care and save money.

George Eliot Hospital Trust in Nuneaton has detailed proposals introduce a 60:40 ratio of qualified nurses to unqualified nursing staff in all wards, in a project expected to cost £1m during 2011-12.

At present the trust’s ratio is 50:50, and it plans to hire more 26 whole time equivalent nurses while reducing the number of healthcare assistants by about the same number.

However, it is also planning to close one general ward next month, saving £650,000 during 2011-12. According to the trust’s workforce plan, 14 whole time equivalent (WTE) qualified nurses from that ward will be redeployed within the trust – but no mention is made of the 9.5 WTE healthcare assistants.

The plan says that increasing the proportion of qualified nurses will maintain service quality and patient safety as the trust attempts to cut 10 per cent of its budget over 2011-12.

The gains in quality of care are also expected to contribute to the trust’s cost savings programme in the longer term.

But increased efficiency through employing more nurses “will enable further bed closures in 2012-13”, the plan says.

Although the 60:40 target is below the Royal College of Nursing’s recommended minimum of 65:35, RCN head of policy Howard Catton said the move was “encouraging”, and went against a national trend of reducing headcount to save money.

He told Nursing Times: “What we have seen nationally is workforce targeted in order to make efficiency savings, in what appears to be fairly crude cost-cutting measures.”

Mr Catton added that a lower nursing staff level could lead to added costs, as patients were more likely to stay in hospital for longer or experience complications.

Readers' comments (7)

  • Whilst I still do not think this is enough qualified staff per patient or per the ratio to unqualified staff, I absolutely applaud this trusts stance on this and hope it is just a first step towards increasing overall staffing numbers, as well as acting as a positive role model for other trusts! It isn't often we get to hear good news or make positive comments on here, so well done this trust! Keep it up!

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  • This is new? It has been known for some time that the higher proportion of qualified nurses there is, the better nursing outcomes there are. On the other hand a straight forward increase in numbers does not in itself improve outcomes, it is the skills of the people on the ground that count. This is old news, where have you people been?

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  • Anonymous | 4-Jun-2011 0:19 am the knowledge is not new, as many of my own postings over god knows how long will attest to, it is the fact that a trust is FINALLY starting (and I admit it is only a start, because they still have a long way to go) to listen that is new, instead of taking the usual stance of cutting staff left right and centre and replacing qualified staff with HCA's as is the norm. Where have you been not to know that?

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  • I bet that the manager responsible for this is a woman AND a nurse herself.....

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  • Anonymous | 4-Jun-2011 5:10 pm you want to explain that sexist statement?

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  • It seems to me that this policy will encourage nurses to at least feel they have a chance of actually achieving the high standards of care we aim to give our patients.

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  • Is there any way of removing the advertising links in the articles and comments, or making it a choice to choose to look at them? It slows down the system when I accidentally pass over them with my mouse and isn't really appropriate, seeing as many of us aren't allowed to have rep visits in practice!
    I think it's fantastic that this hospital is increasing qualified nursing staff - yes, it's been known for a long time but now finally someone is acting on that knowledge. It acknowledges that qualified staff bring specialist skills that not just anyone can do, and must raise moral? Also, it shows that the hospital is putting patient care first. Great!

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