As part of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals commitment to open and honest care, we are taking this opportunity to explain how we ensure safe nurse staffing within our hospitals.
What is safe nurse staffing?
Safe nurse staffing means that we have the right staff in the right place at the right time to provide the care that you or friends and relatives need.
How do we do this?
Each ward or department is made up of a number qualified nurses and trained support staff, called Clinical Support Workers. They are led by a Senior Sister / Charge Nurse supported by a Junior Sister / Charge Nurse. They all wear different uniforms so you can be clear about their position and role in your care.
How do we know how many staff are needed on a ward?
There are a variety of evidence based (tried and tested) tools that we use to measure the dependency / needs of our patients in our wards. There are different tools for different types of patient groups, for example, adult wards, emergency departments and maternity. For other areas where there are not yet tried and tested tools, staffing levels are based on professional judgement in conjunction with national guidance where this is available.
We measure the dependency of our patients twice a year, once in the summer and once in the winter. This ensures we understand our patients’ needs at very different points in the year. Our Board receives this information to ensure it understands nurse staffing at ward level and if there are problems, they understand what these are and can work towards a solution. You can read a Nursing Establishment Review Trust Board paper here.
How do we monitor nurse staffing levels all year round?
We use a system on the wards called electronic rostering and through this we can monitor our nurse staffing levels on a shift-by-shift basis. We use this information to inform the Trust Board monthly, through the Ward Workforce Health Check, about the staffing levels each month.
In addition to this, on a monthly basis, by ward, we look at the hours of qualified nurse staffing and care support staffing that we planned to have on duty versus how many we actually had on duty, for each ward by day and night.
How will I know if nurse staffing is correct on the ward I am in / visiting?
There are Safety Information Boards on the wards that give important information about the quality of the care that each ward delivers. On these boards you will find information about the number of qualified and the numbers of support staff that should be on duty for that shift and the number that are.
Where there are shortfalls, usually due to sickness, there is an escalation process (which is shown on the boards) of how we cover any shortfall that is required (there are times when the wards are quiet where cover may not be required, and this is assessed by the Nurse in Charge and the Matron).
This escalation process includes the Chief Nurse when needed. Please do ask the nursing staff on your ward about the information shown on their Safety Information Boards.