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Professor Peter Griffiths PhD, BA, RN, FEANS, FHEA

Chair of Health Services Research, Health Workforce and Systems Research Group Lead

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Peter Griffiths is Chair of Health Services Research and lead for the Health Workforce and Systems (Health Work) research group. He also leads the Health Workforce and Systems them in the National Institute for Health Research’s Applied Research Centre (ARC) Wessex.

His research focusses on the healthcare workforce, and in particular safe and effective nurse staffing. In 2017 he was appointed as a senior investigator for the National Institute for Health Research, a title which recognises the most prominent and prestigious researchers funded by the NIHR and the most outstanding leaders of patient and people-based research within the NIHR Faculty.

Despite huge technological advances, delivering health care is an essentially human activity, which remains labour intensive. Ensuring we have the right workforce and organisation to deliver high quality and safe care with humanity, now and in the future, is the ultimate aim of my research

Before joining the University of Southampton in 2011 Peter was director of the National Nursing Research Unit at King’s College London. He led on outcomes data collection for the global RN4CAST study, one of the largest studies of the nursing workforce ever undertaken. In 2014 he worked with the UKs National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to review evidence for its safe staffing programme following the Francis Inquiry and went on to work with NHS Improvement in developing safe staffing guidance for the NHS.

He is an adjunct professor at Stockholm’s Karolinska Instutet, distinguished visiting professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a senior fellow at the Centre for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been Executive Editor of the International Journal of Nursing Studies, the most highly ranked journal in the field, since 2006.

Research interests

Peter’s core research programme addresses questions of safe and effective staffing, covering aspects of work organisation, shift patterns, skill mix and substitution. In addition to addressing patient safety, including the impact of nurse staffing levels on hospital mortality, his research also considers the economic outcomes of different workforce configurations as well as the impacts on ‘compassionate care’ and staff wellbeing.

In recent years, he has taken a particular interest in the studying the effect of staffing on omissions in care (missed care), in particular vital signs observations, and the role this can play in leading to adverse patient outcomes. He has also explored the relationship between shift patterns and care quality, costs and outcomes.

Working with colleagues at King’s College and beyond he has explored the long-term impacts of the ‘Productive Ward’ a lean based quality improvement programme that was implemented across the NHS. 2020 saw the commencement of the Magnet4Europe study – a cluster randomised controlled trial implementing principles of the Magnet® programme to improve staff wellbeing in European hospitals.

Research theme

Health Work

Research group

Health Workforce & Systems

Research project(s)

Safe staffing in ICU: development and testing of a staffing model

What is the best model for the allocation of nurses to patients in intensive care settings in England and how does it impact on patient, family, workforce and organisational outcomes?

Consequences, costs and cost-effectiveness of different workforce configurations in English acute hospitals: a longitudinal retrospective study using routinely collected data

This study seeks to understand how variation in the size and make-up of care teams on hospital wards in England influences patient outcomes and the costs of care.

Magnet4Europe: Improving Mental Health & Wellbeing of Health Professionals

The University of Southampton is involved in the largest ever project to improve hospital work environments, with an award of 4 million Euros from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme. The grant will support the international partnership with some of the world’s leading universities and is being led by Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

Implementation, impact and costs of policies for safe staffing in acute trusts

Through a survey and case studies, this study will evaluate the extent to which safe staffing policies following the Francis Inquiry have been implemented, how that varies from place to place, the factors that have shaped implementation, and describe the costs & consequences of implementation.

Identifying nurse-staffing requirements using the Safer Nursing Care Tool. Modelling the costs and consequences of real world application to address variation in patient need on hospital wards

The study examines how patients' need for nursing care, varies from day to day and explores how well staffing matches need when using the ‘Safer Nursing Care Tool’. We also simulate the costs and consequences of different ways of deploying nurses to meet varying need.

Nurse staffing levels, missed vital signs observations and mortality in hospital wards: modelling the consequences and costs of variations in nurse staffing and skill mix

This retrospective observational study uses routinely collected data on ward and shift level nurse staffing, vital signs observations and patient outcomes in 32 general wards in order to explore the relationship between nurse staffing levels and mortality in hospital.

Study of the knowledge, beliefs and behaviours of hospital staff involved in patient monitoring to identify factors affecting performance of scheduled night time observations

Creating Learning Environments for Compassionate Care (CLECC): a feasibility study

A mixed methods study to evaluate the feasibility of an intervention targeted at developing the relational capacity of hospital ward nursing teams. 2014-2016.

Evaluating a major innovation in hospital design: workforce implications and impact on patient and staff experiences of all single room hospital accommodation

New hospital design includes more single room accommodation but there is scant and ambiguous evidence relating to the impact on patient safety and staff and patient experiences.

Evaluating the ten year impact of the Productive Ward at the clinical microsystem level in English acute trusts

The ‘Productive Ward: Releasing Time to Care’™ programme was introduced in English NHS acute hospitals in 2007 to give ward staff the tools, skills and time needed to implement local improvements. Evidence of whether or not these goals were met and sustained is very limited.

Nurse staffing & quality of care in UK general practice

Development project for national Audit for Essence of Care

This project sets out to identify how a national audit could be undertaken and what criteria should be audited.

RN4CAST Nurse Forecasting in Europe

This study, undertaken in collaboration with a large international consortium seeks to explore how the size and composition of the registered nursing workforce affects the quality of care in hospitals.

Impact of Releasing Time to Care (the productive ward ™)

This study, undertaken in collaboration with partners in Canada, seeks to evaluate a nurse-led quality improvement programme which was developed in England by the NHS Institute for Improvement and innovation.

Improving Fundamental Care on Hospital Wards

This is a feasibility study for an intervention aiming to make fundamental care in acute hospitals more person-centred. It pairs the Creating Learning Environments for Compassionate Care (CLECC) intervention with an adapted, co-produced version of the ‘TellUs’ card to support personalisation of fundamental care in hospital.

Framework for Safe Nurse Staffing and Skill Mix in General and Specialist Medical and Surgical Care Settings in Ireland - evaluation

Determining safe and appropriate nurse staffing levels can be challenging and, for many years, decisions on nurse staffing in the Irish healthcare system were based on historical need and legacy issues rather than using a systematic, evidence based approach. This study evaluates the implementation of an evidence based Framework.

Safer and more efficient vital signs monitoring to identify the deteriorating patient: An observational study towards deriving evidence-based protocols for patient surveillance on the general hospital ward

Taking measurements of heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and other vital signs is an important part of care for nearly all patients in hospital but we still need to find out how often we should monitor patients.

I lead the Health Workforce and Systems theme of the  NIHR ARC and a group of researchers working on projects related to the nursing workforce as part of the Health Workforce and Systems research group.

I am executive editor of the International Journal of Nursing Studies



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Book Chapters





Working Papers

  • Workforce
  • Outcome measures
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Systematic review
  • European Academy of Nursing Science PhD Summer School


Professor Peter Griffiths
Health Sciences Student Office University of Southampton Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number : 67/3021

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