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Leaders will prove vital in a quality-driven health service

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Nurse managers have a leading role to play on delivering quality, patient-centred care. That is the message from speakers at the RCN’s Quality Improvement Network conference in London last week.

‘The key to patient-centred care is the culture in which it is delivered,’ said Mary Kenyon, the college’s QIN chairperson. And nurses are surely the key to developing the right culture.

This call takes on the theme set by junior health minister Lord Darzi in the NHS Next Stage Review that the health service needs to refocus its sights in healthcare provision beyond quantity to also embrace quality.

Nurses often see themselves as the profession that sees the ‘whole’ of the patient, so it is right that nurses take a leading role in developing more patient-centred care. While nursing as a profession needs to do this, the college correctly notes that nursing team leaders in particular need to take ownership and help their staff deliver on best practice.

Nurse managers at every level, from ward to board, need to lead on delivering quality, patient-centred care. By doing so they have the opportunity to show the rest of the health service the way forward.

Student retention must be a priority

This week NT exclusively reveals the findings of Unison’s latest annual survey of its nursing student members.

Unsurprisingly the results show that the financial pressures traditionally facing students have not improved since last year. In fact, the credit crunch has forced more than half of students to consider dropping out of their courses.

This is not good news for a profession expecting a serious recruitment shortage to bite within two years (NT News, 9 September, p3). Students represent the future of nursing at a time of great transition for the profession. A healthy supply ofquality professionals is vital to driving forward quality care. Losing them to other professions because of financial hardship should not be an option. Ministers must act to help them.

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