A nurse has devised a development pathway to address difficulties in recruiting clinical nurse specialists to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).

Ann Simms.  Picture credit: David Gee

Traditionally, CAMHS nurses are employed at band 7. Despite this, there is no co-ordinated approach to post-registration education and training, nor an identified career pathway, and this is leading to a shortage of nurses with the necessary skills to work in the specialty.

West London Mental Health NHS Trust lead clinical nurse manager Ann Simms has filled this gap by identifying Band 5 and 6 mental health nurses with an interest in working with children and young people. She has created a development package that facilitates those nurses’ training to ensure they have the knowledge and experience for a career in CAMHS.

The programme is individually tailored to each nurse. As well as formal academic training, the nurse holds a caseload of a size and complexity appropriate to their experience. The nurse is supervised by clinical nurse specialists and the multidisciplinary team.

Ann is a finalist in the Leadership category of the RCNi Nurse Awards 2016, the profession’s top accolade for nursing excellence.

The award, sponsored by NHS England, recognises clinical leaders who have developed initiatives to ensure their nursing ward or unit offers the highest quality and safest care possible.

‘I am thrilled that the pathway has been such a success locally, but most importantly I am proud of the nurses undertaking it. Without their hard work, commitment, enthusiasm and dedication it would not have been the success it is.’

There are now four nurses on the pathway. As well as addressing recruitment problems, waiting times have been reduced and time allocated to patient care increased.

Ann Simms.  Picture credit: David Gee

Ann adds: ‘In the short and longer term there will be better health outcomes because the nurses going through the pathway will be highly specialised to meet the needs of children and young people.’

Ann says there is a desperate need for a national co-ordinated approach to education and training for CAMHS nurses.

The editor of specialist journal Nursing Management, Sophie Blakemore, was on the shortlisting panel. She says: ‘The RCNi Nurse Awards 2016 are a wonderful way to recognise those who innovate in their practice to make a tangible difference to patient care.

‘The standard of entries received for the Leadership award was exceptionally high; the finalists blew the judges away and really showcase how senior nurses and midwives are leading and developing their staff to improve morale, performance and care.’

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