Sunday, 15 April 2018

Duty rosters - how far ahead should they be made up?

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

When I was a Charge Nurse, the job I hated most was making up the staff roster. You could never please everyone and, of course, if you were making it up then you certainly could not be seen to be pleasing yourself. Planning ahead was vital, but plan too far ahead and then staff had no flexibility; plan to close to the time when the roster was needed and you had less flexibility as staff requests were too numerous. How far ahead is enough and when is the optimum time to plan rosters, especially as staff may then simply take the time off as sick-time anyway and then you are short of staff or have to employ short-term staff to cover?

This article by from the UK by Drake (2018) titled: 'Does longer roster lead‐time reduce temporary staff usage? A regression analysis of e‐rostering data from 77 hospital units' was based on a study the aim of which was to investigate: 'whether longer roster lead-times reduce temporary staff usage.' Over 9 months nearly 700 rosters were examined from 77 hospitals in England. The effect of late roster approvals may contribute to nearly 40% of the use of temporary staff and longer approval time of 4-6 weeks reduced this to 15%. The complexities of the relationship are explained in the article.

The authors conclude: 'Between 2–4 weeks, roster lead-time is inversely proportional to temporary staff usage and reflects the assumed relationship between these two variables. However, beyond 4 weeks’ lead-time, the relationship enters a “plateau” phase where longer lead-time has negligible effect on staffing. At this stage, other factors, such as sickness, absenteeism, type of unit and patient demand pattern, define the lower limit of temporary staff usage. Consequently, this research implies that the optimum approval lead-time lies between 4–6 weeks.

You can listen to this as a podcast

Reference

Drake, R. G. (2018), Does longer roster lead‐time reduce temporary staff usage? A regression analysis of e‐rostering data from 77 hospital units. J Adv Nurs. doi:10.1111/jan.13578

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