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Safe Nursing Care in Top NHS Hospitals

The Chief Executives of the Shelford Group have strongly endorsed a toolkit to help hospitals ensure safe and appropriate nurse staffing levels on hospital wards.
by Professor Katherine Fenton and Professor Hilary Chapman
18 Jul 2013

The Chief Executives of the Shelford Group have strongly endorsed a toolkit to help hospitals determine safe and appropriate nurse staffing levels on hospital wards.

Sir Robert Naylor, Chairman of the Shelford Group, said: “The right nurse staffing level, both in terms of numbers and skill mix, is a key factor in providing quality care that every patient expects. This toolkit, which will be used across the Shelford Group hospitals, will give patients some assurance that we are focused not just on the number of nurses but also on the dependency of the patients for which they need to provide care."

The Safer Nursing Care Tool was developed using evidence from 1,000 best practice wards, covering 119,000 interventions delivered to almost 2,800 patients over two years.

It recommends appropriate staffing levels based on patients’ sickness and dependency. Hospitals then need to monitor other indicators including infection rates, complaints, pressure ulcers and falls to give a wider picture of quality and safe care on wards. Some of the hospitals intend to publish this information to patients and their relatives.   

The tool has been endorsed and tested by the Shelford Group, a best practice sharing collaboration between ten of the leading NHS medical research hospitals.

The original tool was created six years ago by Professor Katherine Fenton, Chief Nurse at UCLH (University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) and, Professor Hilary Chapman, Chief Nurse at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. It has been updated to reflect the changing needs of patients who are living longer and being admitted to hospital with more complex needs. It also coincides with the recent publication of the Francis Report which found that poor standards of nursing – including not having enough nursing staff – contributed to the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Katherine Fenton said: “Patients’ needs have changed significantly in recent years. They are often sicker and more dependent  and many more patients have more than one illness at a time. This tool has been developed to reflect this change. It gives nurses evidence based information which can then be used to help determine the appropriate nurse numbers for individual wards.”

Professor Hilary Chapman, Chief Nurse at Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust added: “This tool has been developed to support all Trusts, regardless of whether they have been identified as having a problem with nurse staffing levels. Every Trust can gain insight from the information the tool provides but we should also recognise that it is not a quick fix. Nurses generally want to provide the best care they can but equally there are times when staffing levels can be challenging due to sickness, vacancies or an unprecedented demand for services.”

The Shelford Group Safer Care Nursing Tool

 

 

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