A team of researchers from ARC Wessex has been examining one of the yardsticks used by hospitals in England to allocate the right number of nurses to a ward.
The Safer Nursing Care Tool was developed in 2006 to help nursing leaders decide on the optimal staffing levels for patients in acute and mental health settings.
The research done at ARC Wessex involved Professor Peter Griffiths, Dr Christina Saville both based at the University of Southampton, and included nurse leaders from three acute hospitals in Portsmouth, Southampton and Poole.
What they discovered is that the Safer Nursing Care Tool (SNCT) works pretty well in hospital environments, but needs to take account of differences in workload between mornings and evenings - and those wards with a high throughput of patients. In addition to get a fair picture of the nurse staffing needs in some wards, assessments had to be over a six month period, not the recommended 3 weeks.
All these valuable learning points have been incorporated into a new guidance with NHS England and resources for senior nursing staff. The researchers hope to go on to look at ways of predicting nursing demand in wards.
You can find a summary of the work below - and also on our website