Staffing data FAQs
Below are some of the frequently asked questions regarding our publication of staffing levels at Bedford Hospital:
Why are we publishing nurse staffing data?
It is widely known that staffing levels are linked to the safety of care and staffing shortfalls increase the risks of patient harm and poor quality care.
The government has made a number of commitments in ‘Hard Truths: The Journey to Putting Patients First’, including a commitment to make staffing information more publically available.
What is Bedford Hospital doing about this?
Information about the nurses, midwives and care staff working on each shift is displayed on each ward. The ‘Staff On Duty Today’ board clearly identifies the nurse in charge and shows staff on duty and any gaps in staffing.
A monthly report is published on the Trust website and linked to the hospital profile on NHS Choices.
What is the information telling me?
The data shows any gaps between planned duty rosters and the actual hours worked by nurses and midwives and for care staff over a calendar month including both day and night shifts. This is called the ‘fill rate’.
What does it mean if the ‘fill rate’ is above 100%?
This means that more staff have worked on the ward in the month than planned. This may be due to an increase in patient care needs, for example, where a patient may need one to one nursing care or where a patient has become more acutely unwell.
Where required, staff may be requested to work additional hours, overtime to fill the gap, alternatively temporary staff ie bank or agency, may be requested.
What does it mean if the ‘fill rate’ is below 100%?
Where the ‘fill rate’ is below 100%, this means that there have been some gaps in staffing on some shifts during the month. Generally, this may be due to staff vacancy that cannot be covered by existing staff or unplanned sickness absence that has not been able to be covered by temporary staff.
What happens on the ward when there is a gap in staffing?
When staffing shortfalls (or gaps) in staffing are identified, the nurse in charge will try to cover this by asking staff to change their shift, where possible.
If there is still a gap, the nNurse in charge will escalate to their matron, who will consider offering staff additional hours or overtime to fill the gap and will consider the possibility of moving staff around between wards and departments (called ‘pooling’).
In the short term, nurses may have to work in a different way and focus on essential care to maintain patient safety, as priority.
If the gap in staffing is still unresolved, the matron will escalate this to the senior manager and / or Trust executive, where further action will be considered.