Press Release

Taskforce on Staffing and Skill Mix for Nursing achieves positive patient outcomes and a better work environment

Minister for Health visits hospital implementing the safe nurse staffing programme

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris today (Thursday) visited Beaumont Hospital, one of three hospitals currently implementing the Framework for Safe Nurse Staffing and Skill Mix, led by the Chief Nursing Officer in the Department of Health, Dr Siobhan O’ Halloran.

The Framework, launched in February 2016, sets out a radical new approach to determining nurse staffing levels in hospitals, designed to put patient needs first and focus on delivering positive patient outcomes. The Framework is equally focused on creating a healthier and more attractive work environment for staff by stabilising the nursing resource and providing for more equitable workloads, a critical factor in recruiting and retaining this vital resource.

The results of the pilot clearly demonstrate the achievement of positive patient outcomes along with a healthier and more attractive work environment.

Acknowledging the tremendous work by staff and senior management at Beaumont Hospital and indeed across the three pilot hospitals, the Minister said, ‘The progress in achieving the core objectives of better patient outcomes and a healthier and more attractive work environment for staff is quite evident when we look at the results here in Beaumont. The results indicate that the occurrence of adverse nurse sensitive patient outcomes is not only decreasing but continues to further decrease as the pilot progresses. As these adverse nurse sensitive outcomes decrease, this will have a positive impact on length of stay, which will make a substantial difference in meeting the challenge of access into our acute hospitals. Equally, the substantial and sustained reduction in agency hours. This is important to ensuring a stable workforce, the impact of which is evident in the reduced intention to leave rates and higher job satisfaction rates by nurses in these areas. This is critical at a time when we are focused on the recruitment and retention of this vital resource across our services.

“I want to sincerely acknowledge that the success of this pilot is in no small part due to the hard work, commitment and positive engagement of the staff in the pilot hospitals and to especially thank the staff of Beaumont hospital here today.”


Note to Editors

Deciding on an optimal number of nurses is not an easy task. There is a delicate balance to be struck to meet economic, efficiency and patient safety requirements. Achieving this requires that relevant expertise be applied to the decision making process. It was for this reason that Minister Reilly approved the establishment of a taskforce to develop a framework that will determine the staffing and skill mix requirements for the nursing workforce in a range of major specialities. The Taskforce began its work in September 2014. Phase I of the project focused on developing a staffing and skill mix framework related to general and specialist adult hospital medical and surgical care settings. Chaired by the Chief Nursing Officer it has a partnership approach to its membership that includes representation from: HSE and Department of Health Acute Hospitals, HSE and Department of Health HR Division, HSE Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services, representatives from the National Clinical Programmes for Acute Medicine and Surgery, HSE Quality Improvement Division, the Irish Association of Directors of Nursing and Midwifery, Staff Associations INMO and SIPTU, and national and international experts in the topic.
In February 2016, the then Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar TD, launched the Interim Report along with a pilot of the Framework for Safe Nurse Staffing and Skill Mix across general and specialist medical and surgical care settings in acute hospitals. The pilot commenced in February 2016 across three acute hospitals.
Underpinning the evaluation of the pilot is a programme of research led by Professor Jonathan Drennan of UCC. In June 2017, the first evaluation Report of the Pilot was launched by Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD. The pilot research report shows a range of positive results as a consequence of the implementation of the framework some of which include;

1. Stabilisation of the nursing resource through reduced use of agency hours.
2. A decrease in adverse nurse sensitive patient outcomes;
3. Reduced intention to leave rates alongside increased job satisfaction rates;
4. Reductions in sick absence rates