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Health Sciences

Dr Christina Saville BSc, MSc, PhD

Research Fellow

Dr Christina Saville's photo

Christina is a Research Fellow within the Workforce and Health Systems theme in Health Sciences. She has been researching nurse staffing since 2017. This work has been funded by National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) Wessex and NIHR grants.

Christina’s background is in Operational Research, the branch of Mathematics that uses advanced quantitative techniques to help make better decisions. She is interested in how Operational Research techniques can be applied to decisions in healthcare, particularly staffing decisions.

Planning safe staffing levels is complicated so we need to make use of advanced methods. Setting nurse staffing levels at the average needed may be putting patients at risk.

As part of a large project across four hospitals, she analysed data to understand the variation in demand for nursing. In particular, she compared requirements measured by a widely-used staffing tool (the Safer Nursing Care Tool) with professional judgements of staffing adequacy. She developed a computer simulation in Anylogic ( to model the costs and consequences of alternative nurse staffing approaches. She also analysed the relationship between staff working long shifts and professional judgements of staffing adequacy.

Her current project involves working with hospitals in Wessex. The project aims to understand which ward characteristics mean the Safer Nursing Care Tool provides good estimates of the staffing levels required, and which ward characteristics mean that the number might need to be adjusted or further considered by taking into account the expertise of ward leaders.

In 2018, Christina obtained her PhD thesis in the Operational Research group in the School of Mathematics. The topic was mathematical modelling of breast diagnostic clinics. It involved analysing whether information provided by general practitioners when referring patients to diagnostic clinics could be used to predict patients’ risks of receiving normal/ abnormal diagnoses, and simulated alternative ways cancer diagnostic clinics could be organised if this information were used. Prior to this, she worked as an Operational Research Consultant at British Airways.

Research interests

  • Safe staffing
  • Operational research techniques applied to healthcare

Research projects

Identifying wards for which the Safer Nursing Care Tool is appropriate for assessing nurse staffing requirements

Research group

Health Workforce & Systems

Research theme

Health Work

Research project(s)

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.

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.

  • Editor of Workforce Evidence Briefs
  • Reviewer of academic articles for various journals
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Working Paper

Supervision: MSc dissertation module students

Dr Christina Saville
Health Sciences, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number : 67/3005

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