In a paper for a high-level policy meeting in Westminster on Monday 9 December LSE health policy experts highlight serious gaps in the safe staffing of NHS hospitals.
The research suggests a widespread discrepancy between staff rosters and actual numbers on the wards. This can leave hospitals both overstretched and reliant on last-minute agency workers, increasing risks for patients. Even following the adoption of computerised systems by hospitals for rostering staff they may be losing £71.5 million annually from payrolls simple because they have no reliable means of tracking real-time delivery of staff rosters.
In the report, LSE academics Dr Tony Hockley and Seán Boyle say: "Success in addressing these issues requires a concerted and cohesive approach, with strong leadership and broad support. A shift towards an evidence-based system for staffing requires not only a focus on the assurance of high quality care, but also a common understanding that a more efficient system will be equitable between members of the workforce".
This report immediately follows the Government's response to the Francis Report on Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, in which the Government committed itself to achieve safe staffing on NHS wards whilst rejecting calls for a minimum ratio of nurses to patients.
Dr Hockley said: "We found numerous examples of hospitals paying non-existent doctors and nurses, and overpaying real staff. At the same time others are working unpaid overtime to cover for shortages. It seems that the NHS lacks the collective confidence to move towards any form of 'clocking in' that would allow it to know who is on the wards. "
In a foreword to the report for the think-tank Politeia, Professor Alistair McGuire argues: "If productivity is to be increased it is imperative to know how best to deploy labour within the NHS. Currently there is little information on the value added to individual treatments by different forms of labour provision. There is, in fact, little information over the actual hours worked by the labour force and the impact of turnover rates on local labour markets.”
Dr Tony Hockley on 07768 237389 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Politeia on 020 7799 5034
LSE Press Office on 020 7955 7060, email@example.com
Notes for editors:
The paper will be discussed at a roundtable of health policy experts hosted by the think tank Politeia on Monday 9 December 2013. A revised version of the paper will be published in January 2014.
The Politeia report was funded by an unrestricted research grants from Kronos UK.