NICE safe staffing advice published

Nurse taking blood pressure

15 / 7 / 2014 12.34pm

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has today published Safe staffing for nursing in adult inpatient wards in acute hospitals. The guidance offers advice to help employers identify the organisational and managerial factors needed to support safe staffing for nursing. The focus is on nursing care being provided in adult inpatient wards in acute hospital settings. 

We know that safe staffing is of great concern and interest to employers and throughout the guidance consultation period NHS Employers has continued to work with NICE to emphasise the importance of local evidence and judgement on staffing levels and the contribution of a multi-disciplinary approach. 

Our chief executive, Dean Royles recently said: "
Patient safety is at the heart of the NHS and it's vital that decisions on staffing are made locally and at the point of care, using robust evidence and looking at the whole picture. This is no easy quick-fix solution. It's not just about numbers, but the right staff with the right skills". 

The emphasis of the advice is not on an single nursing staff-to-patient ratio but on recommendations about the factors that should be systematically assessed at ward level to determine the nursing staff establishment. The guidance outlines recommendations for registered nurses on wards who are in charge of shifts and for senior management and nursing managers. Employers should refer to the 'red flag events' which are set out in the guidance as there is an expectation that action will be taken immediately in these circumstances. 

Further information

The NICE press release for the publication of the guidance is available hereMore information is also available on our Nursing Workforce pages. 

Related documents

The National Quality Board for England has issued guidance about what is expected of providers and commissioners in the area of nursing staff capacity and capability. NHS England and the Care Quality Commission also recently published joint guidance to NHS trusts on the delivery of the 'Hard Truths' commitments on publishing staffing data regarding nursing, midwifery and care staff levels. 

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