Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

NICE calls for evidence on safe staffing for community nursing


The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has launched a call for evidence to help it draw up safe staffing guidance for nursing in community settings, which it expects to publish in spring 2016.

It wants organisations that provide adult care in community settings to share data on both registered staff – including district and specialist nurses – and non-registered workers such as healthcare assistants.

“District nursing establishments [are] often derived from available budgets, historical practice or overly simplistic caseload sizes”

Draft scope for guidance on community safe staffing

NICE said it was looking for information on staffing levels, activity data on anonymised patients or service users, and any outcome data relating to performance or patients.

At the same time, NICE is consulting on the draft scope of the guidance. It provisionally states that its aims is to provide “minimum numbers of nursing staff and the skill mix needed to deliver safe nursing care for over-18s in community care settings”.

To ensure this happens, the guidance will address a range of factors affecting safe staffing such as case mix and volume, population demographics, acuity, prevalence of chronic disease, availability of family or carer support, and dependency on nursing care.

In addition, it will look at environmental factors such as the geography of the area covered by community nursing teams, how far they have to travel between patients, and rural and urban factors.

The division and balance of tasks between registered and non-registered nursing workers, staff turnover, and the range of services provided are also expected to be considered, along with management and administrative factors including teaching and supervision arrangements.

The draft scope for the guidance states that it will not cover service design or reconfiguration but it will consider how safe staffing for nursing is needed to implement the different models of care in community services.

“Providers reported that planning the community workforce was challenging…because of the volume of demand and increase in patient acuity”

Draft scope for guidance on community safe staffing

NICE said it also does not intend to address safe staffing for other healthcare professionals in community settings – such as physiotherapists and social care  workers – within the guidance, but that it will consider how the availability of other multidisciplinary team members affects safe staffing for nursing.

In the scope document, NICE noted that research in 2014 by the Queen’s Nursing Institute found “decision-making around nursing staff levels [in the community] is not systematic, with district nursing establishments often derived from available  budgets, historical practice or overly simplistic and standardised caseload sizes”.

It added that a report last year by health think-tank the King’s Fund highlighted that “nursing staff shortages were a recurring theme”.

The need for safe staffing guidelines was a key recommendation of the Francis report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

The forthcoming community guidance is the latest in a series of guidelines on safe nurse staffing levels being developed by the institute in the wake of Francis.

NICE has already developed guidance on staffing levels for maternity settings and adult inpatient wards in acute hospitals, as well as a draft version on emergency settings.

The consultation on the scope of the community nursing guidance and the call for evidence are both open until 20 May.

NICE expects to issue a consultation on the draft guideline in November 2015, before publishing the final version in March 2016.


Readers' comments (4)

  • I am so relieved to hear this is going to happen. Community Nursing now undertakes such a wide range of complex activities - Vac dressings, I.V. antibiotics, pleurex drains, care of chemotherapy lines, end of life care, yet the number of nurses working in community in the area where I work is down by at least 33% from 5 years ago. This makes the amount of time available for 'real' nursing care rather than being task orientated impossible. Both patients and staff then suffer.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • i totally agree with the last comment, our skills have widened and role has increased, we are having to see more and more patients with complex clinical and social needs, with less staff on the shop floor delivering the service, it is about time we were taken into account.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Community services are often seen as the area to cut funds when you merge with an acute trust, and this means staff cuts.
    This has happened in my area year after year. The buget has been cut as acute services were seen as more importent, staff leave and recruitment does not match this, and the worry is the more experienced staff are leaving in droves.
    Now as the acute sites become bed blocked, they expect communityservices to accommodate more and more, with a depleted workforce and that is the same for the AHPs.
    We're expected to meake additional cuts again this year. If they cut any more staff we will need to start training the patients
    What ever NICE decideds it should be more than just recommendations

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Am I mistaken ? Does the photograph show a nurse removing a dressing without wearing gloves ?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs