• By Old Geezer
  • In
  • Posted Monday September 23, 2013

When a Post-it Note Just Won't Do!

Contrary to the popular enthusiasm abounding from the idea of posting nursing staff numbers up on the wall for all and sundry to see, I wonder if I am a lone voice in expressing reservations on this. Press commentary doesn't just limit this to the wards – I have seen GP surgeries mentioned here as well.

How is this going to help? I don’t want a system which reports on staffing numbers – I want providers to have the staff and the funding they need, then reporting it becomes unnecessary.

What is the benchmark staffing level?

Is this what the hospital sets as affordable, or what they need, or what some mandarin says they should have to look after their patient numbers? This “needs” measure will vary according to the ward speciality, the admission rate (how many bums in beds) and (given that 24 hours / 7 day working is far, far away) whether it is during the “working day” or at 2.00am.

Who will post this information up and keep changing it?

I can see this being the poor old nurse who, to be frank, has better things to do, like looking after patients. It’s not like they are under-employed or anything. Envisage a situation where a manager sets a published staffing level (based on what?) – is this going to change at different times of day? Say 6 nurses as a target on a on a ward 8.00am – 6.00pm. The ward clerk posts up on the notice board for all to see that the target is 6. One nurse is on holiday and another is part time and goes home at midday. Are the managers going to be happy to show that the staffing is 25% down for half the day? The whole thing is ripe for manipulation. The ward clerk goes home at 4.00pm. Who assesses the staffing level targets and actuals when the shift changes at 6.00pm? Who does this at 2.00am? You are talking about around the clock here, not just when the politicians are awake. And there is no point in the exercise if it is not accurate all the time. I suspect after a few months people will just not bother. And it is not just nurses – it’s doctors and HCA staff as well. Far from reducing bureaucracy it seems to me that the bean counters are well and flourishing.

What will you do in your GP practice when this comes to you?

You will have to constantly amend your posters during the day. It’s a waste of time. I’m not sure what the numbers will mean to a patient anyway– they just want to be seen within a reasonable period of time and will soon let you know if they are not happy.

It’s a good piece of political posturing.


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