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Cash cuts will mean 'pressure to move between wards'


NHS spending cuts are likely to mean nurses come under pressure to move between wards more often, a nursing workforce expert has predicted.

Keith Hurst, researcher at the Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, developed a nursingworkforce planning tool, which is being used by hospitals to compare staff numbers and mix on different wards.

He said results from across the country had shown around a third of wards were usually understaffed, one third about right and one third overstaffed.

It takes into consideration the seriousness of the condition of the patients on a ward.

The tool, which is now being rolled out across the country and made easier to use, will allow nurse leaders and managers to check their levels from day to day and ask staff to move. As it becomes harder for trusts to recruit, they hope it will help them ensure there are safe staffing levels in more areas.

Mr Hurst said: “We are bad at pooling and deploying nurses where work is needed. These are challenging times and that attitude has got to go.”

Areas such as elderly care are known to often be understaffed and paediatrics overstaffed, because it is considered a better place to work. It is known to be harder to recruit permanent staff into areas such as elderly wards.

Mr Hurst said: “If you are a clinical manager or a doctor and you have your results [showing recommended staff levels] for that day, you have the opportunity to pick up the phone and send two staff from one ward to another. That ought to be how you should work.”

It will also be used to plan recruitment to different areas.

The tool is now being developed by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement and is part of the Energise for Excellence programme, led by the strategic health authority chief nurses (news, 16 February, page 4).


Readers' comments (4)

  • in nursing it is about team building so that patients get the best care. but i have worked where you go into work and you dont know where you are going to work team buliding gone right out of the window, Thats the only thing staff nurses have left. when i was moving from ward to ward I felt alone and had know one to talk to. This also reflects on the patients care as they have an unhappy staff nurse who feels she has no self-worth. But does anyone care no as long as money is being saved.

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  • This will compromise safety. We work within our specialities for a reason. An 8 year CCU nurse being re-deployed to COTE or surgical is firstly not a good use of "resources" as it would appear I am being referred to, all areas work differently, equipment being positioned in different places etc.

    This will increase sickness, increase errors and complaints from patients.... just wait.

    Perhaps a few less "managers" and "specialist nurses" who do very litte in a day - other than tell us what we already knew or pushing for discharges to qualify their bonus payments for band 7/8 would fund some more SNs on the floor.

    Yet another pathetic government initiative - lets open the door a little wider for the private companies to come in and run the NHS.

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  • I think movment between wards a bad
    thing and patient care is being neglected.
    Every new nurse working in a different area needs to be orientatated. I have recently worked with nurses from different
    areas and find they do no know what to do
    and when busy you don't have the chance
    to help.

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  • Who decided paediatric nursing was overstaffed, it sure as hell isn't where i work! I know we tend to have have fewer patients than adult nurses but that's for a reason, they are extremely vulnerable. When you have 4 or 5 patients, mostly babies, and often with no parents. It is heart breaking hearing them cry when you have no time to carry out all but the most basic of cares. Children are like the elderly, they need time, consistancy, supervision and stimulation. Our young patients are still developing and need much more than just drugs and obs. They need play, interaction and sometimes surrogate love. We have to spend lengthy periods of our nursing time building a rapport that will encourage them to be less fearful of the procedures that may happen to them. Please don't see paediatric nursing as an easy option in nursing. It is damn hard work!

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