New guidance on staffing capacity and capability

Categories: Care.

The Francis Inquiry into the events at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust said that inadequate staffing levels at the hospital led to the poor quality of care.

In its full response to the recommendations in the Francis report, the government said that it would not enforce minimum staffing levels, but that hospitals would have to make public the staffing levels on each ward.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has been tasked with developing guidance on safe and efficient staffing levels. NICE will be reviewing all the evidence in this area, and will begin publishing a range of guidance on safer staffing levels for different NHS settings in August next year.

In the meantime, new guidance published last week by the National Quality Board and sponsored by the Chief Nursing Officer in England, aims to help commissioners and providers make decisions around staffing capacity and capability.

The guide:

  • outlines a set of expectations of providers and commissioners relating to staffing, and provides advice on how they can be met
  • signposts readers to existing evidence-based tools and resources, and provides examples of good practice
  • outlines individual responsibilities of different parts of the workforce in relation to staffing
  • describes approaches to organisations reporting on staffing levels on a monthly basis
  • explains what national organisations will do to underpin the expectations.

Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer in England, said: “We have very clear evidence of a link between appropriate staffing and the outcomes of our patients. This evidence must be used to set staffing levels locally. Patients and the public are therefore entitled to know that we have the right number of people in place to provide safe, quality care every time.

“We first encouraged a move towards greater transparency on staffing levels in my nursing strategy, but we are now going further. Hospitals will have to publish this information – at ward level – and present the evidence they have used to determine staffing levels in public. That is the right way to ensure there is rigour around decisions that are taken, as well as to provide hospitals and other services with the flexibility they need to get the right staff in the right place. We need the right level of staffing in every locality – and that cannot be mandated centrally.”

Staffing hospices

The Commission into the Future of Hospice Care has been looking into the future staffing needs of hospices as part of its work to help hospices meet the challenges and opportunities of the next 10-15 years.

Working with Skills for Health, the Commission has published a working paper detailing some of the key roles and skills that will be needed in the hospice workforce in the future.

The Commission has highlighted many key areas for change and suggested that a very real shift will be needed in the way hospices operate, the services they deliver and the people that they look to serve if they are to survive and be effective in their contribution in the future.

These changes will need to be underpinned by a workforce that has relevant skills, can work in a variety of contexts and is innovative and highly flexible in approach.

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