Nearly half of senior nurses believe leadership in the NHS is poor while most say not enough priority is given to quality of care, according to a new survey.
In total 80% of nurses who responded to the King’s Fund leadership survey said they did not think quality was prioritised enough. That was higher than any other professional group including doctors and senior management.
Meanwhile just 8% of nurses felt the quality of leadership in the NHS was “good”. Forty per cent said it was “average” while 49% described it as either “poor” or “very poor”. However, they were more positive about their individual teams and services where 60% described leadership as “good”.
The survey of NHS professionals, mainly leaders and managers in hospitals and care settings, attracted 900 responses – 36% of which were from nurses.
When asked about the biggest obstacle to improving patient care, 41% of respondents said it was “time and/or resources” but that was higher among nurses at 51%.
The survey was published alongside a King’s Fund report on leadership, which highlights the critical role of nurse leaders.
The Patient-centred leadership report found the best nurse leaders built strong teams by getting to know staff, talking about problems early on and setting the “tone” for care by treating staff as they wished staff to treat patients.
They also ensured staff had support and supervision that reflected the emotional and physical challenges of their jobs.
“What matters is that the critical role of nurse leaders in ensuring care quality and patient safety is recognised and that they receive adequate support to fulfil their role,” it said.
Steve Jamieson, head of the RCN’s nursing department, told Nursing Times it was vital nurses were supported and given time to undertake leadership training. He said this was particularly important in the wake of the Francis report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust which found a lack of nurse leadership was a key factor in poor care.
Mr Jamieson said: “We have to make sure up and coming nurses have got the skills and expertise in leadership to be able to work in our rapidly changing health system,” he said.
He welcomed initiatives like the NHS Leadership Academy’s scheme that will see Band 6 and 7 nurses get leadership training.
“There are opportunities out there so it’s about ensuring nurses can access them,” he added.