All NHS Trusts are being given the opportunity to use the Safer Nursing Care Tool (SNCT) thanks to an innovative partnership between the Shelford Group and Imperial Innovations, in collaboration with NHS Improvement and the Chief Nursing Officer.
Optimal staffing in hospitals is fundamental for safe and high-quality patient care and has been an area of increased focus in helping to improve quality of care and the working environment for staff. However, decisions on staffing have traditionally been taken based on historical allocations and experience, and therefore have been highly subjective and variable.
The Safer Nursing Care Tool is a simple-to-use, evidence based digital tool that calculates nurse staffing requirements based on the acuity and dependency of the patients on a ward and is linked to nurse sensitive outcome indicators. This can help nurse leaders in setting ward staffing levels rigorously and objectively, although of course it remains challenging to recruit to those optimal levels in the current environment.
The Safer Nursing Care Tool , which was developed by two NHS Chief Nurses, Professor Dame Hilary Chapman and Katherine Fenton OBE, has been rigorously validated using a substantial database over a number of years and is now widely used by NHS trusts. The new partnership will now give access to all healthcare organisations in the UK and overseas.
The development of the Safer Nursing Care Tool has been supported and endorsed for use by NHS England and NHS Improvement. To support providers with implementation, NHS Improvement in collaboration with the Shelford Group will introduce the Safer Nursing Care Tool country-wide through a National Safe Staffing Fellows’ program. This program aims to support the sustainability of the Safer Nursing Care Tool and safe staffing approaches for all provider Trusts. This program has been designed to ensure that knowledge of the Safer Nursing Care Tool and its operational application is consistently applied to the service using the evidence base behind the Safer Nursing Care Tool.
Professor Dame Hilary Chapman, Chief Nurse at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and co-founder of the Safer Nursing Care Tool, said:
"Having the right number of nurses, with the right mix of skills and experience, is essential if organisations are to provide safe, high-quality care for patients. We know the Safer Nursing Care Tool works and I am delighted that by collaborating with Imperial Innovations, the CNO and NHS Improvement we now have the ability to share the Safer Nursing Care Tool more widely so that more organisations can benefit from its user friendliness and flexibility to adapt to individual organisations."
Dr Ruth May, Executive Director of Nursing at NHS Improvement, said:
"I am delighted that NHS Improvement along with the Shelford Group of Chief Nurses will be collaborating in the further development of safe staffing and the Safer Nursing Care Tool. The pioneering work of the Safer Nursing Care Tool led by Shelford Group has led the way in ensuring that the NHS has one of the best tools internationally to support decision making on safe, effective and sustainable staffing. I am pleased that the leaders of this; Hilary Chapman (Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust), Katherine Fenton (latterly Chief Nurse at University College London Hospitals), Janice Sigsworth (Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust), Dr Keith Hurst and Ann Casey, will be working with NHS Improvement to develop the future experts across England in support of providers in safe and effective staffing. The Fellows program is the first of its kind in England and its aim is to ensure that we create a lasting expert legacy started by the Shelford Safer Nursing Care Tool team. This program is open to all nurses to apply and we expect it to be a fantastic development opportunity."
Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said:
"I am pleased to see and support work taking place to further develop the safe staffing and safer national care tool, now available to NHS organisations across England. This is collaborative, partnership working at its best, ensuring we have the right staff to help us provide safe, patient focused care. This fantastic work specifically supports the delivery of commitment nine from "Leading Change, Adding Value" the national framework for nursing, midwifery and care staff."
Manish Patel, Head of NHS Technology Transfer, Imperial Innovations, said:
"We are excited to work with the Shelford Group to distribute a tool with such a large potential for impact. The Safer Nursing Care Tool is an excellent example of healthcare workers’ capacity for innovation, collecting the knowledge and experience of leading nurses from the NHS for the benefit of both patients and staff across the country."
The SNCT has also been developed and validated for a variety of care settings. The Safer Nursing Care Tool SNCT now includes staff multipliers for acute assessment units as well as acute inpatient wards. A version for children’s and young people’s wards is also available, and versions are being developed for emergency departments and for the care of older people.
Michelle McLoughin, Chief Nursing Officer, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and Chair of the Association of Chief Children’s Nurses, said:
“In my role as the Chair of the Association of Chief Children’s Nurses and the Chair of the 'Safe, sustainable and productive staffing - an improvement resource for Children and Young People' I am absolutely delighted that this tool is being launched. The feedback from those that have used the tool is really positive and I am delighted that we will be trying it in my own organisation very soon”