Safe Staffing

At Sheffield Teaching Hospitals we take caring for our patients very seriously. As well as delivering the best clinical outcomes from treatments or operations, we feel your nursing and midwifery care should also be of a high standard.

With this in mind we monitor not just the number of registered nurses or midwives on duty on each ward but we also consider the level of nursing and midwifery skill required.

We have been formally reviewing our nursing and midwifery staffing levels since 2006. We use a number of tools to assess what the correct safe staffing levels should be for different wards. This is based on how sick or dependant the patients are on that particular ward and the level of care they need. We use the Safer Nursing Care Tool as well as the professional judgement of senior nurses working in the areas. It is important to take into account the judgement of the very experienced nurses who know the wards and the patient’s level of need rather than simply using a statistical tool or fixed ratio in isolation.

In addition we continually monitor patient outcomes and quality indicators and consider these when establishing nurse staffing levels. We use a range of tools to do this including the Safety Thermometer, nurse sensitive indicators and ward monitoring systems.

It also has to be remembered that a care team on a ward is not simply the Registered Nurses or Midwives. On all our wards we have other trained staff who provide care for patients in addition to the role of the Registered Nurses and Midwives on duty.

So in summary a one size fits all for nurse/midwife staffing is not always in the best interest of the patients because in some cases patients may need a higher ratio of nurses for example in critical care where we have one to one care. In other areas patients may not need such a high ratio of Registered Nurses because they are not acutely ill anymore. An example of this in our Trust is Beech Hill Intermediate Care ward where patients are no longer sick but they are continuing their rehabilitation, so to meet these patients’ needs therapists and other care staff work alongside Registered Nurses as part of the team.

However our patients can be reassured that when we determine safe levels of care for our wards it is only after carefully considering the level of care and the acuity of the patient’s medical condition. We want to tailor our care and not just apply a fixed number which may or may not meet the required needs.

Of course, like every other hospital, we do have occasions when nurse / midwife staffing levels may be lower during a shift because of unexpected staff sickness or other legitimate reasons. However at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals we have a senior nurse on duty 24hrs a day, 7 days a week on each hospital site whose role includes managing nurse staffing and ensuring safe staffing levels are maintained. This helps manage unexpected staff sickness or other issues which may mean a ward needs to call upon additional staffing. Having an experienced senior nurse on site helps manage these situations safely. We also have a pool of our own experienced nurses who we can call upon to provide additional cover in these circumstances.

We display the both the actual and planned staffing levels on all our wards on a shift by shift basis and this information for the last month will also available by clicking the links below. We assess the required nurse staffing levels on all our wards twice a year and report this to our public Board meeting too. Find the latest report below:

Safe staffing report (download)

Board of Directors monthly staffing exception report

Most recent 6 monthly review of staffing


Additional Information

Did you know

We work in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield to help train student nurses and midwives and so we are very fortunate to have a pool of nurses to recruit from when they qualify each year. As one of the biggest Teaching Trusts in the NHS, we are very fortunate that healthcare professionals including nurses want to come and work here. Once employed many of our nurses stay with the Trust for the majority of their career and so we have a very stable and experienced workforce too.

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