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A critical care matron has developed a “bespoke” tool to improve understanding of nurse staffing levels on intensive care units in East Anglia.
Roz Yale from East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust has created an acuity tool which is believed to be the first of its kind in the country.
“There isn’t another one, as far as we know, in the country which is bespoke to critical care”
The tool looks at several indicators such as admissions, discharges, patient hygiene and mobility to calculate an “acuity score” to determine how many nurses are needed to meet patient demand.
Ms Yale said this “real-time” score is undertaken electronically twice a day by the bedside nurse to allow for changes in patient need or numbers.
She said: “So, one patient might need one nurse, but actually for parts of their care during the day they need 1.3 nurses or 1.4 nurses, depending on the interventions under their clinical needs.”
The organisation was formed out of a merger of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals in 2018.
The joint trust now uses a flexible model of staffing that allows nurses to move across the two sites where necessary.
For critical care, the staffing model means nurse reinforcements can be quickly mobilised if the acuity score at one unit is higher than another.
Earlier this week, the trust was rated as “requires improvement” by the Care Quality Commission in its first full inspection since the merger.
However, in their report, inspectors praised the trust for the “innovative” tool.
They said: “The service had developed an innovative critical care acuity tool to improve understanding of nurse staffing requirements.”
Ms Yale said the tool had been both “influential and supportive” of critical care staffing.
“It has enabled us to have a staffing uplift to our template, based on the acuity needs,” she added.
“So, we’re very excited by the tool because there isn’t another one, as far as we know, in the country which is bespoke to critical care.”
The tool, which started out at Ipswich hospital three years ago before being replicated at Colchester, enables the trust to “help plan [its] staffing”, noted Ms Yale.
She highlighted that “a number of other trusts” were interested in the tool and said it would be “lovely to think it could be rolled out across the country”.