Nurses will soon be able train to achieve qualifications in general management and leadership under latest government plans.
NHS medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh has revealed the Departmeent of Health’s plans to encourage more clinical staff into NHS management posts.
Nurses will be able to train for a Leadership for Quality Care certificate, which is set to be launched by the DH in the next couple of months.
The certificate will allow staff to train across three levels. Level 1 will offer basic training in management for newly appointed senior nurses and ward managers, level 2 will be aimed at heads of departments and level 3 will target staff hoping to become directors of nursing and move to board level.
The problem of nurses stepping up to management roles with little or no structured training in place – the usual example being a ward’s best clinical nurse being promoted to sister or charge nurse – has long been recognised.
The RCN is developing guidance on the ward sister role in response to concerns that the role is ‘ill-defined, underpaid, undervalued and overburdened with paperwork’, as reported by Nursing Times in November.
Sir Bruce admitted that clinical leadership had been a problem area for the health service. ‘Clinical leadership should be expanded in the NHS,’ he said. ‘The problem is how we develop that,’ he added. ‘There are loads of doctors and nurses in the NHS so why are there so few of them in management roles?’
Sir Bruce said there is a ‘lack of vision’ to engage and attract clinicians. ‘The selection process into nursing or medicine seeks different attributes to people who might be leaders and managers,’ he said.
He added: ‘Incentives are not structured for clinicians to go into management, there is not a well-defined career path for managers compared with clinicians and often if you want to become a manager you have to organise the training yourself.’
He also said the NHS needed to tackle the ‘cultural perception’ that clinical staff who go into management are ‘going to the dark side’.
‘Many clinical staff still don’t understand the true value of management and becoming a manager is not critical to your success as a nurse or doctor necessarily. In the eyes of some, although this is getting less, if you go over to the “dark side” you also lose some clinical credibility,’ he said.
Leadership for Quality Care certificate
Level 1 - Basic managemet training for newly appointed senior nurses and ward managers
Level 2 - Training aimed at heads of departments
Level 3 - For directors of nursing and board-level positions
The government is also aiming to set up a master’s programme for management. ‘It will be up to SHAs to commission this locally from their local universities and we [the DH] will match the funding they put into this,’ Sir Bruce said.
He added that training on NHS structure and management needs to happen at the start of the careers of clinical staff. ‘We need to get this in early so people understand how the NHS works as a system, so when people come out of nursing or medical schools they don’t feel disenfranchised,’ he said.
The full version of this article can be read in the the next edition of Managers in Partnership’s member magazine Healthcare Manager, which will published on 9 February.