Current human resources planning models in nursing are unreliable and ineffective as they consider established factors of demand and supply, but ignore effects of deployment of nursing staff (number and qualification) on quality of patient care.
The project RN4CAST has been established by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission. It aims at introducing innovative forecasting methods by addressing not only volumes, but quality of nursing staff and its effects on patient care as well. RN4CAST thus opens the opportunity to generate new approaches to more effective management of nursing resources, ultimately securing better outcomes for patients around the world. The study contains a consortium of research teams from Belgium, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and the UK. Norway entered the project in a later phase and will serve as a reference country. The study focuses on medical and surgical care within general acute hospitals to create a clear picture of the relationship between nursing workforce planning and patient outcomes. Data was collected anonymously from nurses and patients in addition to hospital discharge records, to investigate how elements including nurse qualifications, demographics, workload, well-being and practice environment can effect productivity, patient safety and patient outcomes. Overall, in the 12 European countries up to 500 hospitals, 50,000 nurses, 12,000 patients and hospital discharge data from hundreds of thousands of patients have been included. Researchers from 3 International Cooperating Partner Countries of the European Union are to collaborate in this largest ever nursing workforce study to be undertaken (Botswana, China and South Africa). They will provide a broader international perspective on the results of the study, which are expected mid 2011.