Trial to see nurse staffing levels based on patient needs

Plan to see staffing worked out on type of patients rather than number of beds in ward

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has argued staffing levels in hospitals are too low and do not take sufficient account of the needs of high dependency patients.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has argued staffing levels in hospitals are too low and do not take sufficient account of the needs of high dependency patients.

 

Nurse staffing levels are to be based on the needs of patients rather than the size of a ward, under a new approach being piloted by the Department of Health.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar, who will announce the €2 million pilot in several hospitals later on Monday, said the change in policy is designed to put patient needs first.

The framework, which will see staffing levels calculated on the basis of patient needs rather than the number of beds in a ward, will be trialled first in general and specialist medical and surgical inpatient units.

The new approach is based on an official recommendation to replace the current “one size fits all” approach with a range of factors when calculating safe nurse staffing and skill mix.

“The ultimate goal is to stabilise the nursing workforce, raise care for patients, and make hospitals a healthier and more attractive work environment for staff,” said Mr Varadkar.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has long contended staffing levels in hospitals are too low and do not take sufficient account of the needs of high dependency patients.