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Nursing shift patterns in acute, community and mental health hospital wards: a feasibility study and survey

Principal Investigator: Dr Chiara Dall’Ora

Team members: Dr Chiara Dall'Ora (Senior Research Fellow in Nursing Workforce, School of Health Sciences, University Of Southampton),  Professor Peter Griffiths (Chair of Health Services Research, School of Health Sciences, University of Southampton), Ms Nicky Sinden (Head of Nursing Workforce at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust), Dr Sarah Williams (Associate Director of Research & Improvement, and Academy Lead at Solent NHS Trust), Ms Catherine Smith (Associate Director Workforce Research and Innovation, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust), Professor Jane Ball (Deputy Head of School (Research & Enterprise), School of Health Sciences, University of Southampton), Dr David Culliford (Senior Medical Statistician, School of Health Sciences, University of Southampton) 

Start: 1 October 2020  Ends: 30 September 2022

Partners: University of Southampton, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Solent NHS Trust, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Lay summary
Nurses and care assistants form the largest group of NHS staff. Most work in services that provide care across 24 hours of the day. Research indicates that the organisation of nursing shift patterns might affect the productivity of health services. The introduction of long shifts in nursing was offered as a strategy to maintain service levels while eliminating overlaps. However, research has found that long shifts are associated with higher rates of sickness and poorer patient care. So far, there has been little research exploring individual factors influencing shift work experiences among nurses, and research has been largely confined to acute hospitals.

Aims of the research
The aim of this research is to provide evidence to support decision making about deployment of nursing shift patterns on acute, mental health and community hospital wards in England. To do this we will:

1) Understand how shift work may impact on the experience of work and productivity from the nurses’ perspective, including an assessment of preferences and constraints through a survey

2) Determine the availability and quality of nurse and patient routinely collected data

3) If data are of good quality, measure associations between shift patterns, workforce characteristics and outcomes including nurses’ sickness

Design and methods
This research will consist of three parts:

1)            A survey

2)            Routinely collected data extraction from Trusts

3)            Data analysis

We will work with our partner trusts to access routine data. We will assess feasibility and data quality of such data.

Patient, public and community involvement
We will work with one acute and two community providers, who both participated in the development of this project. Patient and Public representatives were involved in preparing this application, by offering their views. They will continue to be involved throughout the project, and nurses will help inform the survey design.