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This promises to be a tough week for the nursing profession, as anyone with a gripe about the way they or their loved one has been treated will be given a platform to vent their anger. The Francis report into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust will provide further ammunition to those who believe nursing has lost its way.
Expect complaints about the way students are taught nowadays, claims that nurses are too immersed in their paperwork to care, and suggestions that bringing back matron would prove a panacea.
The nurse leadership model of the post-war era has understandably been cast aside, but there is no doubt that matron's replacements lack the authority of their predecessors. Nurse directors must take responsibility for quality of care. That means they have to be held to account when standards slip, but it also means they must be given sufficient clout in the boardroom. The role is not taken seriously by too many organisations.
For proof that this is so, take a look at two pieces of evidence. First, nurse directors are among the lowest-paid board members. The (man) in charge of the finances is almost without exception paid more than the (woman) in charge of nursing. What does that say about NHS trusts' priorities?
Second, few nurse directors are responsible only for nursing. Many are expected to take on broader roles covering clinical governance or the patient experience. It is as if being a director of nursing were not a full-time job.
There are always two themes that emerge from care scandals: a lack of resources and inadequate leadership. Ministers and managers must be held to account when they fail to provide enough resources, or fail to allocate them appropriately. And on leadership, a key lesson from Mid Staffs will be that nurses must seize back control: nurses must be led by nurses, not by general managers more concerned about balance sheets and targets.
Editorial | Nursing Standard | February 5th 2013 | Volume 27 no 23
Reflections: Senior managers must stop playing the blame game
Background: The Francis Report
Nursing Standard is published every Wednesday by RCN Publishing Company Ltd, the publishing company of the Royal College of Nursing.
It seeks to promote professional excellence, and encourage creativity and innovation in nursing, midwifery and health visiting practice. Nursing Standard also aims to enhance nurses' and healthcare assistants' career development and to help them achieve and maintain a healthy and rewarding working environment. Nursing Standard is editorially independent and the opinions expressed are not those of the RCN or of the contributor's employing organisation unless specifically stated.
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