020 7340 1159 info@shelfordgroup.org

Safer Nursing Care Tool

The Shelford Group chief nurses’ sub group has led the development of innovative and evidence based decision support tools for setting clinical staffing establishments, known as the Safer Nursing Care Tools (SNCT) and the Mental Health Optimal Staffing Tool (MHOST).

About the Safer Care Nursing Tool

To find out more about the SNCT and MHOST, please contact info@shelfordgroup.org

Licensing enquiries should be directed via nhsinfo@imperial.ac.uk

The Safer Nursing Care Tools (SNCT) and the Mental Health Optimal Staffing Tool (MHOST) calculate clinical staffing requirements based on patients’ needs (acuity and dependency) which, together with professional judgement, guides chief nurses in their safe staffing decisions. The tools:

  • Provide organisational level metrics to monitor impact on the quality of patient care and outcomes 
  • Give a defined measure of patient acuity and dependency 
  • Are able to support benchmarking activity in organisations when used across trusts 
  • Embrace all the principles that should be considered when evaluating decision support tools set out in the relevant NHSE/I ‘Safe, sustainable and productive staffing’ resources 
  • Include staffing multipliers to support professional judgement 
  • Provide accurate data collection methodology. 

NHS trusts in England are using licensed SNCT and/or MHOST

Licenses for SNCT and MHOST have been purchased by private and overseas providers

NHSE/I supported the development of these staffing tools which are now used widely across NHS organisations in England, private health providers and overseas healthcare organisations. In 2019 NHS Improvement, in collaboration with the Shelford Group Chief Nurses launched the Chief Nursing Officer Safer Staffing Fellowship Programme to develop nurse leaders in safer staffing, learn more here.  


The licensing process is managed by Imperial College London on behalf of the Shelford Group and is free of charge to NHS organisations in England. For a license for one of the tools contact Imperial College London here.  

Available tools

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Shelford Group would like to reiterate the importance of applying professional judgement alongside the SNCT and MHOST.

To support you in applying this professional judgement, please refer to the professional judgement calculation tool and instructions which will provide the mechanism to assist you in your staff planning.

​“Having the right level of clinical staff is fundamental for safe and high-quality patient care, as well as a good working environment for all staff. Decisions on clinical staffing have traditionally been based on historical allocations and experience and therefore have been highly subjective and variable. The Safer Nursing Care Tool and Mental Health Optimal Staffing Tool have transformed the way that NHS trusts plan their nursing workforce needs.”

Janice Sigsworth

Chair of the SNCT Committee and CNO, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

“As CNO I will continue to focus on developing policy support for effective staffing across health and social care. I am delighted that the Shelford Group has updated the SNCT and launched the MHOST tool to support our organisations in making effective decisions to staff services across the NHS and social care.”


Ruth May

NHS Chief Nursing Officer for England