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OPINION

'Make a case for staffing levels in your trust'

  • 4 Comments

Inside or outside the NHS - all healthcare providers are interrogating their spreadsheets.

The chief executives of trusts and private companies may consider “red lining” through many a group of nurses just to save costs. As the biggest workforce in the healthcare community, nursing salaries are undoubtedly flashing brightly on the budget sheets. But it is wrong to just slash and burn this cost, because it is nurses who have one of the biggest impacts - if not the biggest - on care. Not only do they manage the patient experience, monitor safety and wellbeing of patients 24 hours a day and see their homes, their relationships and therefore their support network close at hand, but also they save costs by running nurse-led services that keep the public healthy and out of expensive surgery and consultant-led clinics.

But unless you’re working in one of the places that listens to its nursing workforce, it can be tough to ensure those making decisions about cuts understand the implications of their choices. The Safer Nursing Care Tool (see news ‘Nurses can prove safety in numbers’) helps with calculating safe staffing levels to provide evidence for your case.

But you’ll still need the skills to manage upwards and deliver that information. It’s a mistake to make demands with no empathy for the wider situation, but so is neglecting to ensure those on the board really know what is happening on the wards. That’s why the Nursing and Midwifery Council says all nurses are responsible for escalating concerns.

Mid Staffs demonstrates the devastating consequences of losing sight of the people who matter, and with cuts all around, nurses’ antennae need to be more in tune than ever before. I am not suggesting for a moment that when staffing levels are inadequate it’s nurses’ fault - far from it. In most cases, nurses are phenomenal at keeping management informed. But sometimes, difficult conversations are avoided. It takes bravery and passion to bring up these issues. But they are two characteristics that most of the nurses I’ve met aren’t lacking in.

  • 4 Comments

Readers' comments (4)

  • Jenni you are right in what you say. However, I know you are not a Nurse so may not see this firsthand, but what do you think the majority of us have been doing for a long time now? I have been banging my head against a brick wall since I came into this profession trying to get more staff, stating that care is at unsafe levels SOLELY due to the fact we do not have enough staff, and do you know the responses I get?

    'There is no money.' 'You are not getting any more staff.' and my personal favourite, 'You should manage your time better to complete all the tasks!!!!!!!' aaargh!!!!!!

    We all know what the situation is, the evidence is there and has been for a long time. Many of us have done everything in our power to change it, stating over and over an over again that it is needed, filling in all the incident forms we can, even (in my case at least) lobbying my local MP (who couldn't give two figs!)

    Those in power know what the situation is too, but they don't care. Things will never change whilst those who are in charge care only about the bottom line, money. Things will never change until safe staffing levels are made LAW!

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  • Safe staffing levels AND correct SAFE skills MIX is essential in nursing today. The evidence is out there for those countries who have the fortune to have mandatory laws that give them the 1:4 patient ratios.
    ( I know USA, Canada and Australia have this, unsure where else...would be interested to know )
    At ward level EVIDENCE proves there is increased patient contact/ care and assessment....reduced accidents....reduced deaths...improved time management and a huge decrease in staff stress levels.
    Patient acuity at ward level has increased tenfold and time management can go out the window.....eg TPN commencement
    No beds on ICU....
    Its really that simple.

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  • Oh and what the use of having evidence based practices if you are not going to utilise them?
    Especially when this one covers so much!

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  • www.isesuisse.ch/fr/conferences/e_050830unger_drg-prn_mie.pdf

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