Skip to main content

13 December 2019

€4 million grant to improve mental health and wellbeing of health professionals and patient safety

Redesigning hospital workplaces to reduce health professional burnout and improve patient care.

Patient lying in hospital bed

Researchers from King’s College London are 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 of 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.

The Magnet4Europe project aims to redesign hospital workplaces to improve the mental health and wellbeing of nurses and physicians and to improve patient safety. This project begins in January 2020, the World health Organisation’s designated International Year of the Nurse and Midwife.

Prioritising the wellbeing of health professionals for safer patient care

The project originated in the United States, where the National Academy of Medicine prioritised enhancing health professionals’ mental health and wellbeing as a public health goal. Burnout, depression, and fatigue are far too common among nurses and physicians in fast paced hospital settings, and suicide rates are alarming. Patient safety depends upon vigilance, quick thinking, and intense attention to detail by health professionals which is made more difficult by stressful work settings.

‘Hospitalised patients can only be assured safe and effective care when their nurses and physicians are able to perform at their best and this requires healthy work environments.’ Said Professor Linda Aiken, PhD, Director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at University of Pennsylvania, and co-lead on the Magnet4Europe project.

Redesigned hospital workplaces could help improve staff wellbeing

Magnet4Europe will implement an evidence-based intervention based on the successful Magnet Recognition Program®, a voluntary hospital designation for nursing care excellence by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Countless studies have shown that Magnet-recognised hospitals have lower health professional burnout and safer patient care.

I am very excited to be part of this exciting nursing trial and intervention, which holds great promise to deliver a triple win for patients, nurses and healthcare organisations.

Professor Anne Marie Rafferty, Magnet4Europe project team member

Sixty hospitals in five European countries (Belgium, England, Germany, Ireland, and Sweden) will receive a full-blown redesign of their workplaces supported by one to one twinning with an experienced Magnet recognised hospital and an annual learning collaborative. A rigorous research evaluation will determine the success of the initiative. 

Dr Walter Sermeus, European coordinator of the project at KU Leuven said: ‘Our research points to specific features of complex organisations that if modified can significantly improve the wellbeing of health professionals and patients alike. Magnet4Europe will translate these research findings into practice to expedite much needed workplace redesign in hospitals and other healthcare settings.’

There are currently 502 Magnet Recognized hospitals in eight countries, with most located in the US. Only one hospital in Europe has achieved Magnet recognition. Magnet4 Europe will test the feasibility and sustainability of the Magnet Model® for organisational redesign in the context of health care in Europe.

In this story

Anne Marie Rafferty

Professor of Nursing Policy