The theme of the conference is "Missed care, care left undone: Organisation ethics and the appropriate use of the nursing resource".
The aim of this conference is to consider issues of resource allocation and rationing as they relate to nursing care and the distribution of the nursing resource.
As health systems struggle with issues of expenditure and sustainability nurse staffing is a regular focus of attention. Studies emerging internationally highlight instances of covert rationing/missed care/care left undone - suggesting that nurses, in certain contexts, are actively engaged in rationing care. Rationing of care is therefore occurring, whether or not these rationing decisions are explicit.
In terms of the nursing and nursing ethics literature there appears to be a dearth of explicit decision making frameworks within which to consider resource allocation and/or rationing of nursing care. In reality the assumption of policy makers and health service managers appears to be that nurses will continue to provide full care – despite reducing staffing levels and increased patient turn over, dependency and complexity of care. Often, it would appear, rationing/missed care/nursing care left undone is a direct response to overwhelming demands on the nursing resource in specific contexts. A discussion of resource allocation and rationing in nursing therefore seems timely.