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PT and the Greater Good

Staffing Levels an Easy Problem to Fix... Badly

Published March 5, 2014 6:16 PM by Dean Metz

I've written a lot about the Francis inquiry into the failings of the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust. One of the most troubling findings was that in order to save costs, management had cut staff, primarily nursing, to levels that could not assure patients of a safe experience in that hospital. There is much chatter about what is a safe nurse-to-patient ratio going on right now. Notice that it is "nurse" to patient, not clinician to patient.

What could this mean? Physios could be sacrificed to provide a quick and easy fix to the nurse-to-patient ratio without changing overall costs to the NHS. This is dangerous because it doesn't really take into account the full spectrum of patient need, experience and outcomes. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) has already mobilized to ensure this doesn't happen. They are preparing materials on how outcomes in different settings, services and teams are not dependent solely upon nursing. The emphasis will be on sustaining service quality, reflecting all staff roles, and potential risks to patients and safety.

What I really like about the CSP is how nimble they are. As the playing field changes, they respond immediately with proactive plans to address challenges as they arise. I always thought the NHS was a bureaucracy beyond compare, but it actually changes much quicker and more dramatically than CMS does back in the States. The CSP has to work at an equal if not quicker pace. For that I have no problem paying my annual dues.

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About this Blog


    Dean Metz
    Occupation: Staff Development Specialist
    Setting: New York, NY – Newcastle Upon Tyne, Great Britain
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