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Academics ‘remain concerned’ despite CNO’s plan for safe staffing

  • 9 Comments

Academics from across the UK have said they remain concerned as to whether NHS England will be able to produce independent, robust safe staffing guidance, despite the release of some details by the chief nursing officer on her plans for the work.

CNO Jane Cummings wrote to directors of nursing yesterday outlining the “next steps” for her department’s takeover of the programme, which until last week was under the remit of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

“We remain concerned that there is no firm assurance of [the work’s] independence or of a clear plan for the rigorous weighing of evidence”

Council of Deans

Last week it was revealed in a leaked email that NICE was suspending its programme on safe nurse levels, with it later emerging that this was at the request of NHS England.

The safe staffing guideline programme had been recommended by the Francis report, which said NICE should carry out the work.

In her letter yesterday, the CNO said she wanted to “tackle misconceptions” about the takeover and provide the reasons behind the decision.

One of these reasons was that all staff – not just nurses - must be taken into account when drawing up safe staffing guidance.

Another reason pointed to the fact that, apart from acute wards, there is little research or evidence about safe staffing in other care settings.

“[The lack of safe staffing evidence] should be taken as a call to action for a strong, funded programme of research”

Council of Deans

“We need to find a new approach to testing what is right, which includes looking at what evidence exists, commissioning new research and national and international best practice,” she said in the letter.

However, despite the letter, the Council of Deans of Health - which represents all 85 UK university faculties for nursing, midwifery and allied health professions – said there was still “no firm assurance” the CNO’s work would be independent or robust.

It also noted the profession was in agreement about the importance of multidisciplinary care teams, but that there was never a substitute for a lack of registered nurses.

Meanwhile, it pointed out the lack of evidence around safe staffing should not create a “retreat” from rigorous assessment of evidence.

“[It] should be taken as a call to action for a strong, funded programme of research that would answer these questions,” said the Council of Deans.

Professor Dame Jessica Corner, chair of the council, said: “Although it is helpful to have more detail on the plans for this work, we remain concerned that there is no firm assurance of its independence or of a clear plan for the rigorous weighing of evidence that is required for robust advice to the system.”

  • 9 Comments

Readers' comments (9)

  • What exactly was the point of the Francis report?

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  • Anon 8:01 Its the same as when the do work time studies on the ward,no point. They always come back and say your short staffed,you ask are we getting more staff? and they always say we'd love to but the monies not there we're all going to have to pull together and work that little bit harder.

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  • “We need to find a new approach to testing what is right, which includes looking at what evidence exists, commissioning new research and national and international best practice,” she said in the letter". In other word-kick it into the long grass and make it look like she is doing something when she is in fact doing nothing.

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  • Jane Cummings is just Jeremy Hunt's poodle and couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery, let alone do any work on safe staffing levels. Now that the election is over Hunt wants to quietly bury safe staffing levels, hence Ms Cummings sudden involvement.

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  • No doubt they'll all be practising the "Lessons will be learnt" mantra for when it hits the fan due to poor staffing levels

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  • As usual the Conservative govt and their chums in Whitehall are knocking off, in my opinion, the weaker members of society. This also occurred under the last Labour govt.

    And without evidence based research on how to provide cost effective healthcare without the nasty and costly ramifications of the NHS bully culture they operate.

    Too many of the organisations paid with taxpayers money are, in effect, just poodles. Maybe Francis got stopped because he looked like he would be too effective.



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  • michael stone

    'Meanwhile, it pointed out the lack of evidence around safe staffing should not create a “retreat” from rigorous assessment of evidence.'

    QUITE - this work should be carried out by NICE (which, after all, does this type of thing as its 'day job'), and only after the evidence is in, should 'what we can afford to do' be explained and defended by politicians.

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  • 'One of these reasons was that all staff – not just nurses - must be taken into account when drawing up safe staffing guidance.'
    That'll keep the ward clerks happy...

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  • The Tories won't be happy until the entire health care system is privatised. Then none of it will be their fault.

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