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Top hospital trusts to adopt safe staffing tool developed by nurses


The top hospital trusts in England have agreed to use a toolkit that details exactly what nursing establishment they need for safe hospital wards.

The 10 chief executives of the Shelford Group, which comprises England’s largest and most prestigious teaching and research hospitals, have signed up to use the Safer Nursing Care Tool to determine safe nurse staffing levels.

The 10 trusts collectively employ over 83,000 people with a turnover of more than £7bn.

The tool recommends appropriate staffing levels based on patients’ sickness and dependency for medical wards. Plans are also underway to develop similar tools for A&E departments, acute medical units and other specialty wards.

The original version was created six years ago by University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust chief nurse Professor Katherine Fenton and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust chief nurse Professor Hilary Chapman.

It uses evidence from 1,000 best practice wards, covering 119,000 interventions delivered to almost 2,800 patients over two years.

Speaking to Nursing Times, Professor Fenton said: “If the tool is used as intended it will give acute trusts what they need in terms of nurse staffing, based on the acuity and dependency of the patients. Lots of trusts are already using the tool.”

She added that she could not see how some trusts could be considering reducing the nursing workforce given the increasingly complex patients. She highlighted that her trust planned to recruit 500 nurses and healthcare assistants.

Professor Fenton told Nursing Times the link between staff numbers and patient care was clear. “We have to use evidence based tools that calculate what level of staffing you need and you can’t go below that level, it’s as simple as that,” she said.

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Readers' comments (7)

  • round and round we go, we did this in London 20 years ago at the hospital mentioned above.

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  • What is that tool?very interesting

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  • Anonymous | 31-Jul-2013 11:15 am
    I know some websites don't like you putting links in posts so just in case...
    If you follow Shelford Group link in article, it's currently a news article from homepage. Link for tool at bottom of home page.

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  • Absolutely the way to go on and no surprise that Sheffield led by Hiliary is at the fore front of this, please send it down the M1! While I work for DON who fights for increasing nursing staffing and always listens this tool will really get staff involved and owning and empowering. Great news

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  • Funny how the 500 vacancies weren't an issue until the Francis report, just sayin'.

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  • We did this in the 80's.', called 'monitor', not to be confused with ..... There was still only a limited amount of staff available, which led to competiveness and wards having to lie about the level of care required to get adequate numbers and skill mix to deliver acceptable care. Hence, it didn't work, and again staff were blamed for abusing the system and gave the managers, and government , I suspect, the excuse to abolish it, and discredit the nursing staff. There are such clever tactics that we fall for all the time!!

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  • they seem to conveniently forget to mention that we also used to have the power to close beds and refuse admissions when the ward or A&E were unsafely staffed. can you imagine that nowadays? no way.
    We also used to have senior nurses, night sisters and clinical facilitators who used to come and help out, cover meal breaks, give IV drugs, support and work with NQ nurses and we also had student nurses on the wards who were counted in the numbers.
    Very sick patients were transferred to high dependency units, patients were looked after on specialist wards where nurses were specifically trained in the areas they chose to work in.
    Things were very different.

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