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A review of nursing workforce policies in five European countries: Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Portugal and United Kingdom/England

Authors


  • Where UK national policies varied the English policy was reviewed.

Moira Attree
School of Nursing
Midwifery and Social Work
University of Manchester
Manchester
UK
E-mail: moira.attree@manchester.ac.uk

Abstract

attree m., flinkman m., howley b., lakanmaa r-l., lima-basto m. & Uhrenfeldt L. (2011) Journal of Nursing Management19, 786–802
A review of nursing workforce policies in five European countries: Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Portugal and United Kingdom/England

Aim  Review nursing workforce policies in five European countries: Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Portugal and the United Kingdom*.

Background  Imbalances in registered nurse (RN) supply and demand is a global, significant and recurring issue that impacts on healthcare systems, organizations, staff and patients.

Method  Policy Review using resources located by a systematic search of relevant healthcare databases and policies in Danish, English, Finnish and Portuguese over the time period 2003–2007. Content analysis was used to identify themes and compare policies.

Results  Common nursing workforce policy themes were identified across the five countries: (1) improving retention through effective human resource management, improving the practice environment and nurses’ working lives and (2) improving recruitment through attracting more new recruits and RNs back to practice, and international recruitment. The present study also identified methodological issues relating to data quality and quantity. Lack of an agreed definition and standardized measures of nursing need and shortage makes comparison and evaluation of policy effectiveness and impact difficult.

Implications for Nursing Management  Healthcare systems and organizations need to identify and implement effective policies that promote the retention of RNs in the workforce, or risk threats to healthcare system sustainability, as well as patient care quality and safety.

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