Critical Staffing

The Faculty is delighted to launch its Critical Staffing series, developed by the Careers, Recruitment and Workforce Committee. We would like to thank everyone that contributed to this project. We hope you find the documents useful. 

What is the Critical Staffing series and who are they for?

The Critical Staffing series brings together recognised and practical ‘Best Practice Frameworks’ on staffing. The frameworks have been produced to guide commissioners, hospital management and critical care teams on how to ensure they have developed safe, effective and sustainable staffing in critical care.

The response of Critical Care services and staff to the public health threat of Covid has been exemplary but necessitated unprecedented changes to staff working. The effects on staff’s mental and physical health and their emotional wellbeing are increasingly apparent. Critical Care services need to be engaged in mitigating the longer-term impact of necessary emergency responses.

The impact of short-term pandemic response working practice changes now need to be considered within the context of a service that needs to expand, and will continue to be subject to pressure. Retention of staff across all the Critical Care multidisciplinary team and for a lifelong career in ICM requires attention.

What does Critical Staffing #1 cover?

Critical Staffing #1: A best practice framework for safe and effective critical care staffing brings together best practice considerations to ensure you are recruiting, managing and developing a sustainable team, with particular reference to the intensive care medical workforce.

What does Critical Staffing #2 cover?

Critical Staffing #2: A best practice framework for wellbeing and sustainable working in Critical Care brings together best practice ways to provide a better employee experience with particular reference to the intensive care medical workforce.

We are also currently developing Critical Staffing #3 that will provide further details on support for staff who return to work after a career break, to be published in due course.

Dr Jack Parry-Jones, Careers, Recruitment and Workforce Committee Chair, said:

"Staffing, staffing, staffing. For critical care staff, our most serious concerns about meeting the demands placed on Critical Care by SARS CoV-2 were never about ventilator numbers. It was always about staffing expanded units, staffing to meet patients' care needs, and staffing to best uphold the expected high standards of Critical Care in the UK. These concerns were not new to many of us but were brought sharply into focus both within Critical Care and more broadly to wider hospital management structures by the pandemic. The inception of 'Critical Staffing' predates Covid. It is our hope that this series provides a way forward, as well as help for Critical Care teams across the UK to examine their staffing requirements and make plans to meet them. We know Critical Care staff are our most precious resource, and retention is as important as recruitment. 'Critical Staffing' is not just for critical care teams but also for those hospital management structures that are planning for the short, medium and long term. The second document in the series looks to address staff wellbeing to help units maintain staff working in critical care. We know how mentally and physically exhausting it can be to work in such an environment, but we also know how rewarding it can be. We need to ensure those rewards outweigh the penalties, and where people are struggling there are support structures readily available. We also need to ensure Critical Care can be a lifetime career, not one prematurely curtailed by exhaustion and burnout. This requires job plans that acknowledge age (not ignore it) and value experience and make the most of it. We trust that these documents are of benefit to those of you working in Critical Care but also to those planning and delivering Critical Care services."