The guidance, due to come out before Christmas, will send a consistent message about the value of ward sisters and the importance of their work, said RCN policy adviser Jane Naish last week at the NHS Employers’ annual conference in Birmingham.
She said that many trusts had put newly appointed sisters and charge nurses on lower pay bands than was usual, which was damaging morale. Survey results accompanying the guidance show that only two in ten felt they had good career prospects, she added.
‘Surveying ward sisters for this guidance, I was shocked to find that a lot of them were on Agenda for Change band 6 rather than band 7,’ she said. ‘There is very little succession planning, they are overworked and only 22% felt that they had good prospects in terms of their nursing careers in both pay and value.
‘We want to send a consistent message about the importance of the ward sister role – they are responsible daily for those who deliver and receive care.’
Ms Naish added that ward sisters would be key to measuring quality of care using metrics, as outlined in the NHS Next Stage Review. ‘It is very important to metrics because the ward sister will have to implement that,’ she said.
Louise Boden, chief nurse at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, welcomed the guidance, saying the role was a difficult balancing act between clinical and managerial responsibilities.
‘To some extent sisters are expected to have clinical expertise and managerial responsibility but they would have to be superhuman to do it all at the same time,’ she said.