Ward Safe Staffing


Here at City Hospitals Sunderland we are committed to providing safe, high quality, compassionate and responsive care to all our patients.  To do this we need to ensure we have the right staff, with the right skills, in the right place, at the time.


From 24 June 2014 information relating to staffing levels on all our wards will be published on our NHS Choices page.  This is part of the NHS drive to provide more information to patients and the public and to be transparent about care in the NHS following the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.  You can also access the information from here.


How do we check staffing levels?

Every six months we review the number of nurses, midwives and other care staff, such as healthcare assistants, we have working on each of our wards.  We decide if any action needs to be taken to improve the resources available so wards are able to meet the needs of their patients.  Information relating to the latest review has been presented to our Board of Directors and can be found by clicking the link below:

Six monthly reviews of nursing and midwifery staffing levels


In addition, we also take a monthly staffing compliance report to our public meeting.  This report outlines planned and actual staffing for each ward on a shift by shift basis.  This will be done at our public Board of Directors meeting every two months.  Click here for dates of forthcoming meetings and access to the papers.


What action has been taken after the last review?

  • We made available £2m to support the recruitment of additional registered nurses and healthcare assistants in the last financial year.
  • We have undertaken a proactive nurse recruitment campaign and vacancies are advertised both on the NHS Jobs website and our own website.
  • An escalation process is in place to ensure there are sufficient staff for the times when we have to open extra beds or wards to accommodate increased numbers of patients being admitted (such as over the peak winter period).
  • We are keen to develop our workforce for the future through the recruitment of apprentices and involvement in the NHS England pre-nursing experience pilot.


Why our staffing levels may sometimes look “low”

There may be times when the fill rate is less than we had planned. This can be due to a number of reasons, for example due to staff sickness or absence, where we have a vacant post which we have not yet recruited into or when there is reduced activity or number of patients in an area, and therefore staffing is reduced or reallocated to another area. Whilst the fill rate may appear low we may have taken action to close the gap by temporarily moving staff and this is not yet reflected in our monthly report but we are working to include that and give a fuller picture as we go forward. On a daily basis one of our duty matrons  is constantly monitoring staffing to ensure all ward areas are safely staffed, moving staff from one area to support another if required.


Why our staffing levels may sometimes look “high”

There may be times where the fill rates are higher than we had planned, for example when we have to bring in additional staff to meet a specific patient’s needs. Again this is something we keep under constant review.


How do we compare

For staffing figures for all NHS hospitals, please visit the NHS choices website.


Information on ward boards

Ward BoardAs well as publishing the information previously highlighted, on each of our wards, you will find a notice board displaying the number of staff expected to be on duty on each shift and the number of staff who are actually on duty.  The boards also display additional patient safety and quality information such as the number of patient falls, infections and Friends and Family Test scores for that particular ward in the previous month.


We hope that patients, their families and the public will find this information interesting and useful.

For further information, please contact:  Julie McDonald, Head of Nursing and Patient Experience (julie.mcdonald@chsft.nhs.uk)