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Nurses more interested in developing skills than moving up the pay ladder

Staff surveyed at three London NHS trusts revealed the primary importance of a career pathway
Career ladder

Staff surveyed at three London NHS trusts revealed the primary importance of a career pathway

The survey formed part of a staff consultation on plans to develop the nursing workforce at three London mental health trusts – South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLAM), Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, and South West London and St Georges’ Mental Health NHS Trust.

SLAM director of nursing Beverley Murphy said the results revealed that not every nurse wanted ‘money and a high grade’.

Ms Murphy said: ‘People want a career pathway – they want to know where they fit into their organisation and what difference they can make.’

'One of the big surprises'

Lewys Beames, who ran the survey and is a Darzi fellow, said its purpose was to establish what would contribute to nurses wanting to remain working at

Staff surveyed at three London NHS trusts revealed the primary importance of a career pathway

Career ladder
Picture: Nick Lowndes

The survey formed part of a staff consultation on plans to develop the nursing workforce at three London mental health trusts – South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLAM), Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, and South West London and St Georges’ Mental Health NHS Trust.

SLAM director of nursing Beverley Murphy said the results revealed that not every nurse wanted ‘money and a high grade’.

Ms Murphy said: ‘People want a career pathway – they want to know where they fit into their organisation and what difference they can make.’

'One of the big surprises'

Lewys Beames, who ran the survey and is a Darzi fellow, said its purpose was to establish what would contribute to nurses wanting to remain working at the trusts.

He said: ‘I was expecting there to be a lot of feedback from nurses that would be unsatisfied with their pay, but there were only two out of the 350 responses that mentioned money at all.

‘It was one of the big surprises.’

Mr Beames said a theme emerged around professional development and specialising, but specifically on desiring opportunities for clinical skills rather than managerial type skills.

Desire to keep learning and developing

‘Nurses were not necessarily saying they wanted to progress up the pay bands, they just wanted to keep learning and developing, and being the best they could be in their current role.’

He added that ‘until now’ there had not been development pathways for band 6 staff who did not want to become managers.

‘Nearly one third of respondents said they wanted clinical careers.’

The trusts, which form the South London Mental Health and Community Partnership (SLP), have spent the past year developing shared job descriptions, competency frameworks and career pathways for nursing in the three organisations.

In a bid to get the trusts working together to recruit and retain nurses, the Nursing Development Programme attracted £800,000 in funding from Health Education England (HEE) and launched last July.

Consistency in the nursing workforce

Ms Murphy said the consultation and corresponding work to align job descriptions and career pathways has been ‘a huge piece of work’, but overall, very positive.

‘People were saying it was the first time we have had conversations about there being a career pathway for nursing.’

She says that the trusts aim to create consistency in the nursing workforce by standardising job descriptions and training and development opportunities for staff from assistant practitioner and nursing associate level right the way up the bands.

‘We need to match training opportunities to the different bands – we all have a very good preceptorship offer, but what do we have after band 6?

‘Offers vary across organisations, but we are looking to develop nurses consistently in south London.’

Mr Beames said other ideas included offering nurses opportunities to take part on rotational programmes giving exposure to ‘the whole care pathway’ of a patient, creating bridging roles for lower bands in community teams and running an aspiring leaders' programme.

‘There is a commitment by the three trusts to work out how we keep going forward and seeing if we can get continued support from HEE further down the line.’


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