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Susan Osborne: Safe nurse staffing ratios must be mandated across the globe

Staff shortages and cuts to nurse leadership are worldwide problems for the nursing profession. We must work with our international colleagues to ensure staffing levels are safe and that nursing has a place on the global stage, says Susan Osborne.

Staff shortages and cuts to nurse leadership are worldwide problems for the nursing profession. We must work with our international colleagues to ensure staffing levels are safe and that nursing has a place on the global stage, says Susan Osborne

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Picture: iStock

Developing nursing leadership and strengthening the nursing contribution is at the heart of the work of the European Nurse Directors Association (ENDA).

Founded 25 years ago to build a network between European nurse leaders, the association held its annual congress in Croatia earlier this month. Attended by delegates from the US and across Europe, including Scandinavia, staff shortages and cuts to nurse leadership were high on the agenda.

The previous month I met professor Reinhard Busse from Berlin’s University of Technology, whose research on statutory health insurance in Germany was published in The Lancet in July.

Common purpose

Comparing Germany with Denmark, Professor Busse found that although there were the same number of registered nurses in both countries, German nurses were spread thinly across the service, resulting in unsafe staffing levels. There was also a higher length of stay in Germany at 1.74 days compared with Denmark’s 0.71 days, and associated higher costs of care.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) report Working for Health and Growth, published in September 2016, also acknowledged global staff shortages and the undervaluing of the contribution of nursing. This led to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health’s Triple Impact report, and the global Nursing Now! campaign.

It is clear there is a common purpose that can only be achieved by working closely with our international colleagues to ensure nurse staffing ratios are mandated at a safe level across the world.


Susan Osborne is chair of the Safe Staffing Alliance 
@SusanSSA

 

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