Taskforce on Staffing and Skill Mix

54The Taskforce on Staffing and Skill Mix for Nursing was established in July 2014.

1.     What is the Taskforce on Staffing and Skill Mix for Nursing?

The Taskforce is a group of experts that will develop a framework to determine the staffing and skill mix requirements for the nursing workforce that take account of a number of influencing factors. Phase I will focus on developing a staffing and skill mix framework related to general and specialist adult hospital medical and surgical care settings.

Membership of the Taskforce on Staffing and Skill Mix

 2.     Why is the Taskforce needed?

The Programme for Government (2011-2016) contains commitments for radical reform and restructuring of the health services in Ireland. There is a clear trend towards greater interdisciplinary integrated care underpinning these changes. There is a wide range of challenges associated with determining appropriate nurse staffing and skill mix levels in hospitals and community settings in Ireland. The subject of nurse staffing has been a topic of discussion for a number of years most notably since the publication of The Report of the Commission on Nursing (1998). Ensuring appropriate staffing and skill mix has been referenced in inquiries and investigations, demonstrated by research, and is viewed by patients and their carers as a key element in influencing the quality of care. 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. The Taskforce will provide the expertise.

 3.     What are the aims of the Taskforce?

The main aim of the Taskforce is to stabilise the nursing workforce. It will do this by developing a framework to determine the staffing and skill mix requirements for nursing in general and specialist adult hospital medical and surgical care settings (Phase 1). Further phases will follow that will build on the learning from Phase I.

 4.     How will the Taskforce achieve its aims?

The Taskforce will develop a staffing and skill mix framework related to general and specialist adult hospital medical and surgical settings based on best available international evidence. The Taskforce will set out clearly the assumptions upon which the framework is determined. It will also make recommendations around the implementation and monitoring of the framework including the necessary education, training, and guidance. Finally, the Taskforce will present a written report to the Minister for Health.

5.     Factors to consider

The framework to develop staffing and skill mix requirements for nursing must retain flexibility in the system while ensuring the safety of patients.

6.     Has anything like this been done before?

In 2014, the NICE Safe Staffing Guideline was published in the UK and Normative Staffing Ranges for Northern Ireland were also published.

7.     What has the Taskforce done so far?

An Interim Report and Recommendations on Safe Nurse Staffing and Skill Mix in General and Specialist Medical and Surgical Acute Hospital settings has been developed.

To inform the work the Taskforce undertook a range of engagement activities and evidence gathering including the following:

  • it held 14 Regional Meetings across 7 sites, along with an on-line survey option, to gather the opinions and recommendations of front line nurses on the development of the framework and on the draft of the framework;
  • it facilitated a range of presentations and discussion forums with national and international experts, totalling 9;
  • it held specific stakeholder briefings with groups, for example the Irish Association of Assistant Directors of Nursing and Midwifery;
  • it undertook a review of the relevant literature and research evidence;
  • it also circulated 6 newsletters at key project milestones out to clinical services and key stakeholders.

8.     So what’s next?

So the next steps to be undertaken by the Taskforce, is pilot planning and implementation in 2016.  This will test the capability of the framework to deliver on its intended outcomes.

Interim Report and Recommendations by the Taskforce on Staffing and Skill Mix for Nursing.