Constructing duty schedules for nurses at large hospitals is a difficult problem. The objective is usually to ensure that there is always sufficient staff on duty, while taking into account individual preferences with respect to work patterns, requests for leave and financial restrictions, in such a way that all employees are treated fairly. The problem is typically solved via mixed integer programming or heuristic (local) search methods in the operations research literature. In this paper the problem is solved using a tabu search approach as a case study at Stikland Hospital, a large psychiatric hospital in the South African Western Cape, for which a computerized decision support system with respect to nurse scheduling was developed. This decision support system, called NuRoDSS (short for Nurse Rostering Decision Support System) is described in some detail.
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