NHS failings, including many which affect the day to day care of sick people, have been all too prominent in the UK. They have raised serious concerns about the standards of care in our hospitals and led to a number of official inquiries and recommendations. They have prompted questions about the structures for accountability, the system for investigating concerns and, not least, staffing levels.
But, as Working Systems? Towards Safer NHS Nursing shows, there is in fact a failure with regard to the very information available about staffing levels. Often it is based on general historic ratios, and not the number of nurses really present in the ward at any given time. Dr Tony Hockley and Sean Boyle explain that without reliable systems to record such information, safety and efficiency is compromised. Some NHS hospital trusts have now moved to electronic rostering systems for nurses, but few have added the automated systems necessary to monitor adherence to the roster and check the activity of the workforce.
The authors analyse the direction of change in the NHS, the emphasis on safety, staffing numbers and the goal of better care in a more effective and efficient system. Meeting the government’s demand for accurate data on ward staffing will be central. Management should recognise the advantages of electronic monitoring, which raises efficiency, upholds fairness and put boots on the ground where they are needed.
Dr Tony Hockley teaches in the Social Policy Department at the LSE. He is Director of the Policy Analysis Centre
and specialises in health policy analysis. He is author of Politeia’s study A Premium on Patients? Funding the Future
Working Systems? Towards Safer NHS Nursing is published by Politeia, 33 Catherine place, London SW1E 6DY
on Friday 27th June 2014.
Dr Tony Hockley, 07768 237389, firstname.lastname@example.org
Politeia Press Office, 0207 7995034 (or 07415 540669 evenings and weekends) email@example.com