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First implementation in England of Northern Irish workforce planning tool

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Provide says it has received positive feedback Provide says it has received positive feedback about eCAT from district nurses

A social enterprise in Essex has become the first in England to implement eCAT, a district nursing workforce tool developed in Northern Ireland.

Provide is a social enterprise in central Essex which provides community services to over 1.7 million people.

The eCAT tool provides reports along with clinical advice to assist district nurses, team leaders and operational and strategic managers with caseload analysis. It describes, compares and benchmarks district nursing practice in the context of population need, staff resources and service structure. The tool was first developed in Northern Ireland by district nurses and clinical lead nurses along with academics from the University of Ulster.

The tool had been implemented in all five trusts in Northern Ireland by September 2013.

Provide decided to implement the tool with a six- month trial due to be completed this autumn.

The aim of eCAT is to identify the nursing need of the local population, measuring variances in district nursing practice and matching the workforce accordingly.

Jane Hentley, clinical and operations director at Provide responsible for service delivery and clinical standards, and a district nurse by background, says that they had been looking to implement a workforce planning tool for a while and decided that eCAT would best suit their needs.

'The key benefit from my point of view is to able to look a the type of patient on a caseload and to analyse in more detail what the person needs in terms of care and how we make sure we match up the right nursing skill with needs. This tool will enable us to do that. Really understand what district nurses do in practice and it will enable us to alter patient levels based on their acuity. We would remove the patients who shouldn't be on our caseload, helping us to be more efficient,' she said.

Kay Kane, an independent district nurse consultant who developed eCAT and a member of the district nursing group at NHS England, said: 'We are very excited to see an interest in England and we are three quarters of the way through the implementation phase at Provide. It is all going very well and the district nurses are showing great interest.'

Ms Hentley said that many of the nurses had been really positive about the use of the tool and were keen to take part in the one-day training required in the implementation of the tool.

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