Dame Donna Kinnair is head of nursing at the Royal College of Nursing

Dame Donna Kinnair can draw on a wealth of experience in her new role as head of nursing at the Royal College of Nursing

Dame Donna Kinnair can draw on a wealth of experience in her new role as head of nursing at the Royal College of Nursing, from health visiting to government adviser, but her early training as a retail management trainee also gave her some invaluable insights into how to commission what people need and want. She spoke to Jennifer Trueland.

Abstract

As a manager with Marks & Spencer, one of Dame Donna Kinnair’s tasks was to organise bra testing. The job required tact, an eye for what was needed and the ability to negotiate with manufacturers to ensure the end product was something that the customer would love: all at the right price.

These skills have stayed with her throughout her career in nursing, which has involved an impressive range of roles from health visitor to director of nursing, and from children’s commissioner to child protection expert.

‘I understood the process of buying bras, and commissioning was not that different,’ she says. ‘You had to work with manufacturers, test the product, choose people to try it; exactly the skills you use in commissioning.’

Professor Kinnair has just moved from Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), Essex, where she was emergency department clinical director, to become head of nursing with the Royal College of Nursing.

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This article was first published in print under the original title 'Shop-floor nous' in Nursing Management: volume 22, issue 4.

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