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The potential benchmarking exercise with the NHS Northumbria Trust was discussed during the September board meeting of the Group, the minutes of which were seen by MI.
“They have agreed to share data with our Group and we in turn will exchange data with them,” according to the minutes.
In October, during the next board meeting, it was stated that a report was also expected in 2017 from the Taskforce on Staffing and Skill Mix for Nursing, which is to provide specific head-count metrics and ratios for Irish acute hospitals.
A spokesperson for Saolta told MI that the exercise with the UK health trust did not go ahead.
“Saolta did not proceed with benchmarking against NHS equivalents because a national taskforce has been initiated to develop a nursing workforce plan that would factor in acuity levels and skill-mix specifically for the Irish hospital setting,” according to the spokesperson.
“This initiative, sponsored by the Department of Health and launched by the Minister in 2016, will determine optimum patient to nurse/health assistant ratios across the Irish acute hospital network. Saolta felt that to proceed with a separate benchmarking process would be a duplication of effort.”
Meanwhile, the Group’s operational plan for 2017, which was recently published, states that it has experienced a growth in agency staff numbers for all staff categories over recent years.
According to the plan, the Group is “confident that initiatives to engage staff as HSE directly employed staff will show savings in the premium payments required to engage agency staff”.
Staff levels for 2017 “must remain at 2016 levels apart from approved service developments”.