Nursing levels made public

Wigan Infirmary
Wigan Infirmary

WIGAN Infirmary is putting up signs on each ward telling patients the number of nurses on duty - so they can see when they are understaffed.

Each ward in the hospital will soon have a white board telling patients and relatives the number of nurses and healthcare assistants who should be on duty – and how many there actually are at work.

Due to be rolled out in coming weeks across the hospital, it aims to give greater openness on how the hospital is doing to make sure wards are properly staffed.

Wrightington Wigan Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) who run all three of the borough’s hospital sites, are following the lead of neighbouring Salford Royal Hospital, who were the first in the country to make staffing levels for each ward public.

Pauline Jones, WWL’s director of nursing, said: “WWL can confirm that we are currently undertaking a programme of work in relation to white boards and visual management.

“The information contained on these boards will be expected date of discharge and staffing levels on each on a daily basis. This is part of our nursing strategy in ensuring we continue to be open and transparent to our patients.

“Part of our strategy included recruiting to our nursing workforce and the trust secured an investment of £2.1million in 2012 to increase our numbers of nursing staff.”

The new initiative at Wigan Infirmary comes as a national survey of nurses found 40 per cent of hospital wards across the country are regularly run with unsafe staffing levels.

Ms Jones added: “However, we still occasionally experience staff shortages such as the recent unprecedented demand in A&E. On these occasions, it is imperative we understand where we need to redeploy staff and this initiative supports this.”

The Safe Staffing Alliance, an independent nurses’ group, says one nurse looking after more than eight patients is believed to put patients’ safety at risk, reduce the quality of care – and increase death rates.

The Alliance is now calling for the 8:1 ratio to be used as a guideline beyond which patients’ care and safety are in danger.

Elizabeth Robb, chief executive of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, which promotes excellence in nursing, said: “We hope the figure will give directors of nursing the evidence they need to argue for staffing levels necessary for good care.”