Safe staffing guidance


08 / 6 / 2015 11.56am

Following the Francis Inquiry, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has undertaken work to produce guidelines on safe staffing in the NHS.

On 4 June 2015, Simon Stevens, Chief Executive at NHS England announced that safe staffing will now be taken forward by NHS England as part of a wider programme of service improvement. Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer has been tasked with looking at a new approach.

Whilst employers have found NICE guidance on safe staffing levels supportive, conversations are needed around how judgements about safer staffing are applied in practice. We will update this section as soon as more information is available.

What is available for employers now

The two existing guidelines developed by NICE will remain in place:


Guidance was developed initially setting out immediate expectations post Francis by the National Quality Board (NQB) with the Chief Nursing Officer for England, to help providers and commissioners implement one of the key recommendations in the Francis report.

From April 2014, all hospitals have been required to publish staffing levels on a ward-by-ward basis together with the percentage of shifts meeting safe staffing guidelines. This is mandatory and will be done on a monthly basis.

'How to ensure the right people are in the right place at the right time' , is a guide to nursing, midwifery and care staff capacity and capability.

The guidance is based on the principle that no single ratio or formula will calculate the answers to these questions. Getting it right will, it concludes, require the use of evidence-based tools, professional judgement about what is right for your organisation (it will differ from trust to trust), and joint multidisciplinary working. The guidance aims to help you to make some decisions about what safe staffing means to you by identifying some of the tools, resources and good practice used by some organisations.

We know employers are working hard to prepare for the changes, in a spirit of openness and transparency. We will keep you informed as this work develops.

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