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Nottingham trust 'improves safe staffing' with real-time app

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The introduction of an “app” that gives real-time information about staffing levels across a Nottingham trust has led to improved redeployment of nurses and reduced the use of agency workers at the organisation.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust said use of the mobile phone application had led to improved patient care, with falls reduced by 25% and 16% fewer medication incidents recorded between August 2015 and September 2016.

“The safer staffing app has helped me, at a glance, review the skill mix on the ward”

Tony Till

In addition, the organisation said it saved £60,000 over a three-month period in its stroke department due to fewer temporary nurses being used.

Previously the trust did not have accurate live information about nurse staffing across the organisation and nurse managers relied on manual collection of staffing information at key points in the day, it said.

The app is pre-programmed with planned staffing levels for every ward, but staff are also able to input actual staffing numbers at the start of, and during, shifts to keep information up-to-date.

Reports can then be created by the app – with information about fill rates, skill mix and numbers of bank and agency staff – which means the nurse in charge can assess whether the ward is safely staffed and if nurses can be redeployed from other parts of the trust.

“The more we do to help nurses…deliver the excellent care they provide to patients, the more we will see improvements”

Ruth May

Tony Till, stroke specialist nurse at Nottingham University Hospitals, said: “The safer staffing app has helped me, at a glance, review the skill mix on the ward.

“It has enabled me to make full use of the clinical and administrative staff to ensure patient safety, often without having to employ extra expensive bank or agency staff,” he said.

“This has improved team work on the ward by using all members of the multi-disciplinary and administrative team to help with the cohorting of falls risk patients. Consequently, safety in nearly all areas has improved,” he added.

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Ruth May

The innovation has been welcomed by Ruth May, executive director of nursing at NHS Improvement, the regulator responsible for reducing agency spending across acute trusts in England.

She said: “Creating an environment where nurses can spend more time with patients, have flexible working and great job satisfaction will ultimately result in safe, sustainable care and happier patients.

“The more we do to help nurses and healthcare professionals continue to deliver the excellent care they provide to patients, the more we will see improvements like this to the way services are delivered in hospital,” she added.

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