Information for the public
Deciding how many nurses and healthcare assistants are needed on the ward
NICE says that hospitals should have a system to work out how many registered nurses and healthcare assistants are required on a ward. The system should focus on being able to give patients the care they need.
It's important that the system allows for working out the nursing staff needed on each ward, because not all wards are the same. For example, some wards may mostly have patients who need to be given lots of medicines and other treatments. Other wards may be more likely to have many patients who need help with eating and drinking.
The system hospitals use should measure how much nursing time each patient on the ward needs over 24 hours.
It should then add on the time nursing staff need for the parts of their job that aren't directly caring for patients. This includes time to talk to patients' relatives, have meetings with doctors and other staff to discuss a patient's care, and train other members of the nursing team.
Hospitals should then use the calculations to decide the nursing staff they need at different times of the day and night. This includes considering what care could be done by healthcare assistants, supervised by nurses. The registered nurses on the ward are always responsible for the overall care of patients.