NHS England sets out to implement safe staffing ‘advisory’ group

Yesterday, in a letter sent to NHS providers, Jane Cummings, the chief nursing officer announced discussions regarding the progress being made to create an advisory group of senior nurses and experts, which would be able to provide ‘systematic oversight’ to junior staff across the health service.

NHS England stated how such a group would work on safe staffing guidance; reviewing the impact of ‘patient outcomes,’ as well as any ‘economic or operational effects any recommendations could have.’

It has been made apparent that for every healthcare setting, a separate lead would be created with different groups of experts which would examine evidence, and set out future steps of actions.

Future safe staffing programmes cover –

• Mental Health
• Learning disability
• Emergency care
• Primary care & community services
• Maternity

Despite good intentions, NHS England has been condemned for its decision to suspend the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) process on safe nurse staffing levels. Instead, as expressed by many sources NHSE has been scrutinised for delivering a structure which ‘on paper looks very similar to what NICE was doing.’

Chief Nursing Officer, Jane Cummings’ response has been that ‘there can be no compromise on the issue of staffing and its impact on patient safety,’ as we need a ‘methodology that properly assesses and publishes what appropriate levels of staffing should be, taking full account of the changes that can be made with new technology and modern multidisciplinary work practices.”

This guidance on safe staffing levels is due to be published by the National Quality Board and to be finally reviewed by NICE, the CQC chief inspector of hospitals and Sir Robert Francis.

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