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PRO-JUDGE: Nurses’ Professional Judgement in Nurse Staffing Systems in England and Wales

Critical investigations into failures of care in hospital settings have identified the need to develop better systems to support decision-making about levels of nurse staffing.

A wide range of nurse staffing methodologies is in use internationally and nurses’ professional judgement is widely regarded as central to these processes.  Yet while there is research on the technical and organisational aspects of nurse staffing methodologies, it is less well understood how nurses’ professional judgement informs staffing decisions.

The aim of this study is to explore nurses’ use of professional judgement in decision-making about how best to organise the nursing workforce to meet patient need.  The study takes advantage of the recent impact of service configuration in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and national differences in nurse staffing systems between England and Wales.

We will examine nurses’ use of professional judgement in nurse staffing decision-making in a sample of eight hospitals in England and Wales.

Study outcomes

  • make visible the knowledge and skills that underpin professional judgement in nurse staffing decisions and provide a language with which to communicate this;
  • lay the foundations for evidence-based programmes of nurse education and continuing professional development;*
  • inform the development of nurse-led decision tools to support professional judgement;
  • generate wider insights into the effectiveness of nurse staffing systems in practice to inform future policy and practice.


This project is funded by the RCN Foundation.

Lead researcher

Professor Davina Allen

Professor Davina Allen

Head of Research and Innovation

+44 (0)29 206 88561

Research theme

Woman at whiteboard

Optimising service delivery and organisation

Our research provides evidence about current and new ways of organising and delivering services to meet complex health and social care demands.