‘Heat maps’ of wards can give managers a clear line of sight into each ward to help identify which are struggling to cope, says one reader
Your article on NHS England developing a new indicator for nurse staffing it seems NHS England is struggling to find a valid way of assessing whether a hospital has safe staffing levels.
Our experience from working across more than 40 hospitals is that when a ward is understaffed one of the first things to slip is completing patient observations on time.
‘When a ward is understaffed one of the first things to slip is completing patient observations on time’
If you can track this - for instance, using electronic recording of observations - you can create “heat maps” of wards which are struggling to cope, and deploy extra staff or redesign workflow to improve patient care and staff efficiency.
A ward is not a static environment and fixed patient to staff ratios may not be the complete answer.
A clinical tool that gives managers a line of sight into each ward can often be more valuable.
Roger Killen is chief executive of The Learning Clinic