© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Aim: To review research in the literature on nursing shift scheduling/rescheduling, and to report key issues identified in a consultation exercise with managers in four English National Health Service trusts to inform the development of mathematical tools for rescheduling decision-making. Background: Shift rescheduling is unrecognised as an everyday time-consuming management task with different imperatives from scheduling. Poor rescheduling decisions can have quality, cost and morale implications. Evaluation: A systematic critical literature review identified rescheduling issues and existing mathematic modelling tools. A consultation exercise with nursing managers examined the complex challenges associated with rescheduling. Key issues: Minimal research exists on rescheduling compared with scheduling. Poor rescheduling can result in greater disruption to planned nursing shifts and may impact negatively on the quality and cost of patient care, and nurse morale and retention. Very little research examines management challenges or mathematical modelling for rescheduling. Conclusion: Shift rescheduling is a complex and frequent management activity that is more challenging than scheduling. Mathematical modelling may have potential as a tool to support managers to minimise rescheduling disruption. Implications for nursing management: The lack of specific methodological support for rescheduling that takes into account its complexity, increases the likelihood of harm for patients and stress for nursing staff and managers.