Expert advice

Workforce: what is the attraction of Magnet hospitals?

With the emphasis on strong nurse leadership, continuing education and adequate staffing levels, Magnet accreditation is highly relevant to current NHS priorities, says workforce expert James Buchan. 
Magnet_Hosp-Getty.jpg

With the emphasis on strong nurse leadership, continuing education and adequate staffing levels, Magnet accreditation is highly relevant to current NHS priorities, says workforce expert James Buchan

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust is the latest in a small, select band of UK hospitals working to achieve Magnet hospital accreditation.

Along with Oxford University Hospitals and the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust in Birmingham, Nottingham is a key member of the new UK Magnet Alliance, which brings together UK health care organisations interested in pursuing Magnet recognition.

First identified in the United States more than 30 years ago, Magnet hospitals were so-called because of their ability to attract and retain nurses, with later research also pointing to better than average care outcomes.

Highly relevant

The US has

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With the emphasis on strong nurse leadership, continuing education and adequate staffing levels, Magnet accreditation is highly relevant to current NHS priorities, says workforce expert James Buchan


There are 448 Magnet hospitals, but few are
outside the US. Picture: Getty 

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust is the latest in a small, select band of UK hospitals working to achieve Magnet hospital accreditation. 

Along with Oxford University Hospitals and the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust in Birmingham, Nottingham is a key member of the new UK Magnet Alliance, which brings together UK health care organisations interested in pursuing Magnet recognition. 

First identified in the United States more than 30 years ago, Magnet hospitals were so-called because of their ability to attract and retain nurses, with later research also pointing to better than average care outcomes. 

Highly relevant 

The US has a long track record of establishing Magnet hospitals, and the accreditation process is run by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The defining characteristics of magnetism are strong nurse leadership, flexible working, involving nurses in decision-making, emphasis on continuing education and adequate staffing levels.

At the time of writing, there are 448 designated Magnet hospitals, but few are outside the US. There are three in Australia, two in Saudi Arabia and one each in Lebanon and Canada. 

There are currently none in the NHS, but we do have a short, somewhat inglorious history of successful Magnet accreditation. Back in 2002, Rochdale Infirmary became the first NHS trust to be formally accredited by the ANCC, but following a forced merger with other local NHS trusts soon after, it didn't reapply for accreditation. Not for the first time in the NHS, local initiative was stymied by central 'planning'. 

The evidence base showing links between 'magnetism' and improved nurse turnover, job satisfaction and reported quality of care appears highly relevant to current NHS priorities. Hopefully this time the attraction will last.


About the author 

 

 

 

James Buchan is professor in the faculty of health and social sciences at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
 

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