- Defining minimum nurse staffing levels could help to stabilise the nursing workforce, ensure safe levels of staffing and deliver care to an agreed standard.
- However, careful consideration needs to be paid to variations in patient needs and local clinical contexts, as well as the potential impact on patients.
- Setting a mandated minimum has major consequences not just in terms of investment required to set up and establish (and periodically recalibrate) levels, but also in terms of mechanisms needed to monitor compliance and deal with non-compliance.
- Ratios currently in use focus on numbers of nurses to patients. There is a need to look at overall staffing levels, and the skill mix of the nursing team.
- Ratios do not obviate the need for robust mechanisms for workforce planning locally, to ensure that the right staff with the right skills are in place to meet patient needs.
- Why is there a call of minimum staffing levels in the UK?
- Who should be involved in setting minimum staffing levels?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of set minimum staffing levels?
- Think about patients in your ward or unit. Is nurse-to-patient ratios the best way of defining staffing levels?