An audit of nursing staff will be carried out at every hospital ward around the country, in a new plan announced by the Health Minister.
It will evaluate the number and type of nurses needed in each ward.
Simon Harris says it will change the way wards are staffed, improve patient outcomes, reduce agency spend and increase job satisfaction.
Speaking at the launch in Dublin Castle today, Minister Harris said: “This Framework sets out, for the first time in Ireland, the staffing requirements and skill mix needed in our hospital wards to achieve the best outcomes for patients.
"It will allow us to determine the appropriate number of nurses and healthcare assistants required for each ward, based on the number of patients and their particular needs, rather than solely on the ward size.
“Piloting of this Framework has demonstrated significant benefits for both patients and staff. The Framework led to increased quality of care, decreased length of stay in hospital and increased satisfaction with the care received, while staff reported an increase in job satisfaction.
"There has also been a sustained decrease, up to 95%, in the use of agency staff. I’m pleased to say that a promising trend in relation to reduced mortality rates has also begun to emerge.
This Framework clearly works so the next step now is for the HSE to develop a national implementation plan, beginning with incremental implementation across our hospitals. I look forward to the outcome of this process.
The framework was developed based on international research and was piloted in three hospital sites; Beaumont Hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda and St Colmcilles Hospital, Loughlinstown.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has welcomed the launch.
Speaking at the launch also, INMO General Secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha said:
“These findings provide a positive and promising approach to determining the nursing workforce requirements. Using this evidence-based approach to determine nursing staff requirements will be a first for Ireland and will challenge those who believe that there are adequate nurse staffing levels currently.
The implementation of the Framework would lead to dramatic improvements in patient outcomes and it would revitalise and re-energise nursing staff.
"It is very clear to patients, visitors and staff that nursing and midwifery numbers are grossly inadequate in the context of the safe delivery of current demands on the overcrowded public health service.”
Ms Ni Sheaghdha concluded:
“The provision of optimal care and hope to patients and the nurses who care for them is now a real possibility. This requires real investment in attracting nurses to work in Ireland and retaining those that are leaving, pay remains the single area not addressed, and the framework requires full roll out without delay.