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Fears as nurse directors are ‘cast adrift’

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Nursing directors in foundation trusts are being “cast adrift” from the rest of the profession, according to Nursing and Midwifery Council chief executive and registrar Dickon Weir-Hughes.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, Professor Weir-Hughes said senior nurses in foundation trusts were being denied networking opportunities and felt isolated from their peers.

Nurses have to speak to each other across organisations to ensure that… patient care is safeguarded

He said: “We’re very concerned about the fact that nursing directors in foundation trusts are really cast adrift.

“Nurses have to speak to each other across organisations to ensure that… patient care is safeguarded.”

The conference fringe event was held to debate how to prevent problems like those that led to the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust scandal.

Speaking to Nursing Times after the meeting, Professor Weir-Hughes said nursing directors at foundation trusts were often discouraged from talking to strategic health authority chief nurses, to preserve trusts’ independence.

He said: “The downside is it’s really difficult… you don’t have anybody to go to for professional support unless you have your own very robust network, or a chief executive who is saying ‘please find yourself a mentor’.”

He encouraged nurses to “take networking into their own hands”. For example, nursing directors in London have set up a dinner club to meet colleagues in other organisations, he said.

The NMC has also been holding events at which nursing directors can meet each other and swap good practice.

A public inquiry into the problems at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust is due to begin 8 November.

Professor Weir-Hughes said it was time to “stop bashing” staff and instead see them as part of the solution.

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