Editorial

Turnover of nurse directors remains worryingly high

Nursing Standard’s annual survey of nurse directors has revealed that turnover in the boardrooms of trusts and health boards continues to be at worrying levels. But action is being taken to tackle the issue.
Editor Graham Scott

Nursing Standards annual survey of nurse directors has revealed that turnover in the boardrooms of trusts and health boards continues to be at worrying levels. But there are some signs of improvement, and action is being taken to tackle the issue.

Each year we ask every trust and health board how long its director of nursing has been in post. The latest figures show that 132 of the 230 have been appointed since 2014, while 33 only took office since January 2016.

The lack of continuity, instability and leadership that results is unacceptable, especially when, more often than not, the nurse director cops the blame when patient care is called into question. It is wholly unrealistic to expect the nurses who take on these roles to affect significant change when they are new to the role, and have less influence than others around the table.

Cascading

Nursing Standard’s annual survey of nurse directors has revealed that turnover in the boardrooms of trusts and health boards continues to be at worrying levels. But there are some signs of improvement, and action is being taken to tackle the issue.

Each year we ask every trust and health board how long its director of nursing has been in post. The latest figures show that 132 of the 230 have been appointed since 2014, while 33 only took office since January 2016.

The lack of continuity, instability and leadership that results is unacceptable, especially when, more often than not, the nurse director cops the blame when patient care is called into question. It is wholly unrealistic to expect the nurses who take on these roles to affect significant change when they are new to the role, and have less influence than others around the table.

Cascading experience

However, the figures have improved slightly this year, and should continue to do so thanks to a programme run in England by NHS Improvement nurse director Ruth May.

First-time directors of nursing are offered additional support, including one-to-one meetings to plan the first 100 days in post, and ongoing support while they find their feet.

More experienced directors are providing a buddying service to help those new to the role, while those who aspire to such positions are now being prepared.

Hopefully initiatives such as these will have the desired effect, so that Nursing Standard’s annual survey is no longer necessary, and the profession receives the leadership it needs at board level.

 

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