Minister Veradkar launches radical €2M pilot scheme to transform nurse staffing

 Minister Varadkar and the Chief Nursing Officer Dr Siobhan O’Halloran yesterday launched a radical new approach to nurse staffing levels in hospitals, designed to put patient needs first,. 

· The €2 million pilot project in three hospitals ranging in size from small-scale to large-scale will end the practice of calculating nurse staffing levels based on ward size, and instead allocate nurses according to the needs of the particular patients in that ward. 

Minister Varadkar was joined by the Chief Nursing Officer Dr Siobhan O’Halloran and nursing union leaders to launch the first national Framework for safe nurse staffing and skill mix in acute hospitals.  

· The Framework will now be piloted in three acute hospitals in general and specialist medical and surgical inpatient units. It’s also the first policy paper produced by the Office of the Chief Nursing Officer. 

· The €2 million allocated in funding will allow the project to be piloted later this year.

· The Interim Report with Recommendations published today sets out the Framework for the pilot, including a method to calculate a safe nurse staffing and skill mix for acute hospitals. 

· In particular, it recommends replacing the ‘one size fits all’ approach with a range of factors when calculating safe nurse staffing and skill mix. 

· The ultimate goal is to stabilise the nursing workforce, raise care for patients, and make hospitals a healthier and more attractive work environment for staff.

Minister Varadkar said: 

This approach involves a significant change of emphasis in calculating the number and type of nurses for each ward. 

Instead of matching the number of nurses to the size of the ward, this pilot project will match nurses to the type and number of patients on the ward, and their particular needs. 

This should have an immediate impact on the safety and quality of care, and on the experience of patients. 

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