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How Many Nurses do we Need—Standards or Pseudo Work Study?

  • John P. Wattis (a1), Keith J. B. Rix (a2) and David A. Collins (a1)
Extract

In manufacturing industries, measuring productivity is relatively easy. In many service industries where the job is discrete (e.g. mowing a given area of grass or serving a number of cups of tea), work study methods are still easy to apply. In medicine and nursing where both the product and its process of ‘manufacture’ are hard to measure, things become more difficult. Nowhere is this more so than in psychiatry. Perhaps because of this, the standard often applied in the past has been professional judgement, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, for example, has suggested appropriate levels of nurse staffing in psychiatry of old age. Such standards are now being questioned and an alternative is being propounded, at least in the Yorkshire Region, based loosely on work study methods. Psychiatry and psychiatric nursing have nothing to fear from work study, provided that acceptable standards of service are defined, and work study methods are properly applied. The first of these is partly a political task although it is to be hoped that the politicians would take guidance from patients, their relatives, and the appropriate professionals. Work study can ensure that such standards are achieved in the most economic way. It cannot set the standards. The authors are concerned because an exercise has recently been mounted throughout Yorkshire that purports to be a measure of nursing load, but which neither defines the standards of nursing care to be achieved, nor uses adequate methods to measure the work involved.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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1. Group for the Psychiatry of Old Age (1978) Memorandum on nurse staffing needs for the hospital service for the elderly mentally ill. Bulletin of the Royal College of Psychiatrists,January, 45.
2. Leeds Regional Hospital Board (1963) Work Measurement as a Basis for Calculating Nursing Establishments: An Analytical Study: Harrogate. Leeds RHB.
3. Wakefield Area Health Authority (1977) Evaluation of Patient Dependency and Assessment of Nurse Staffing Needs in a Large Hospital for the Mentally Ill.
4. Oxford Regional Hospital Board, Operations Research Unit (1967) Management of Nursing Care, Oxford RHB.
5. Mulligan, B. (1974) Patient–Nurse Dependency and Workload Index, King's Fund Project Paper No 2 (2nd Ed.), London.
6. Norwich, H. S. & Senior, O. E. (1971) Determining nursing establishments, Nursing Times, 67, Occasional Papers pp. 1720.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0140-0789
  • EISSN: 2514-9954
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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How Many Nurses do we Need—Standards or Pseudo Work Study?

  • John P. Wattis (a1), Keith J. B. Rix (a2) and David A. Collins (a1)
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