It is fantastic news that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has officially endorsed the Safer Nursing Care Tool.
Produced by nurses for nurses, this tool provides just the evidence nurses need to ensure they have the right number of staff to provide high-quality patient care (see page 4).
It’s interesting that, when talking to us about the tool, one of its creators, Katherine Fenton, chief nurse at University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust, says it will enable nurses to present a clear argument for more staff or a different skill mix because they will be coming from an evidence-based perspective instead of an “emotional” one.
Traditionally, the issue of how many nurses there are on a ward has always been an emotional topic. Arguments that more professionals are needed - when they come from nurses themselves - can tend to be seen as them just having a moan or overplaying their importance. Funnily enough, other professions don’t get quite the same line in any pushback - when radiographers argue for more radiographers, doctors for more doctors or physios for more physios, it is never regarded as an “emotional argument”. I suspect it’s just one more way to keep nurses - and their usually valid claims that they need more resources - at bay.
Of course, nurses are totally conversant with working with an evidence base, proof and outcomes; it’s what they do every day to make sure they are giving patients the best treatment and the best advice. But when it comes to thinking about staffing, everyone from their managers to ministers forgets that nurses are actually very good at approaching problems and challenges with scientific reason and evidence as their starting point.
Nurses are very good at doing more with less - convention dictates that they have always had to. But this tool, used properly, might mean they no longer have to. And it’s a tool that’s pretty hard to argue with - it’s been produced using the evidence from 1,000 top-performing wards, data from thousands of episodes of patient care, and tested and adopted by 10 of the country’s top teaching hospitals - the Shelford Group. So I hope NICE’s official stamp of approval makes more hospitals adopt it so more nurses can refer to it to get the nursing they need - and ultimately make patients safer throughout our hospitals.
Jenni Middleton, editor
firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed