The rate at which nursing and ambulance staff are leaving the NHS is increasing. The number of nurse vacancies has risen to over 40,000 – a record high. The ambulance service has recorded an 80% per cent increase in staff leaving the profession since 2010. These rates are unequally distributed across professions, specialties and geographical regions, introducing inevitable inequalities in patient care.
This Efficiency Research project aims to use this variation to detect underlying contributory factors for better or worse nurse and ambulance staff retention, and determine its effect on patient outcomes.
A research team from Staffordshire University will use their experience of applying ‘big data’ analytics and unifying large datasets from three previous studies on the effect of nurse staffing on patient safety.
Projects began in 2019 and will run until December 2023.
There are three work programmes to explore workforce retention and configuration in healthcare.
The first programme will combine and align multiple large datasets from 20 NHS trusts across secondary care and mental health and 10 ambulance trusts. This will enable the analysis of multiple variables and their effect on workforce retention, and how these variables, in combination with workforce retention, subsequently impact patient outcomes.
The second work programme will involve designing and testing an infrastructure for the routine extraction, combination and analysis of these large datasets. This will enable the adoption of these techniques across the NHS. The nursing element (NuRS) will start first, with the ambulance staff (AmReS) element following approximately six months later.
A third programme will examine the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on patient safety in terms of reporting behaviours, for example; and will explore how nursing and ambulance workforce configuration in response to a pandemic affects patient safety and quality of care.
This project is a unique opportunity to unlock the key underlying drivers of nurse and ambulance retention and determine their impact on care quality, helping to tackle the challenge of supply in the NHS and ensure that high quality, sustainable care is available to all.