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Nurs Manag (Harrow). 2016 Sep 30;23(6):22-29.

A real-time Excel-based scheduling solution for nursing staff reallocation.

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Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland.
University of Turku, Turku, Finland.


Aim This article describes the development and testing of an Excel-based scheduling solution for the flexible allocation and reallocation of nurses to cover sudden, unplanned absences among permanent nursing staff. Method A quasi-experimental, one group, pre- and post-test study design was used ( Box 1 ) with total sampling. Participants (n=17) were selected purposefully by including all ward managers (n=8) and assistant ward managers (n=9) from one university hospital department. The number of sudden absences among the nursing staff was identified during two 4-week data collection periods (pre- and post-test). Results During the use of the paper-based scheduling system, 121 absences were identified; during the use of the Excel-based system, 106 were identified. The main reasons for the use of flexible 'floating' nurses were sick leave (n=66) and workload (n=31). Other reasons (n=29) included patient transfer to another hospital, scheduling errors and the start or end of employment. Conclusion The Excel-based scheduling solution offered better support in obtaining substitute labour inside the organisation, with smaller employment costs. It also reduced the number of tasks ward managers had to carry out during the process of reallocating staff.


hospital; nursing management; rescheduling; scheduling; staffing

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