The government is to plough millions of pounds into leadership training for nurses with the central aim of improving compassion and care delivered to patients.
It is to spend £46m between now and 2015 training 10,000 NHS workers, of which 5,000 will be nurses and midwives.
The NHS Leadership Academy, which will lead the project, has said nurses interested in taking up training courses will need a referral from their trust.
There will be three core programmes: a foundation level course, mid-career development and executive leadership. Those completing the foundation course will also be able to take a post-graduate diploma in leading compassionate healthcare.
The investment in NHS leadership training was described by academy managing director Jan Sobieraj as a driver for “industrial levels of innovation and change”. “To our knowledge nothing on this sort of scale has been done before,” he said.
The money is part of a £140m package announced by the prime minister on 6 October, which will also see £100m available for improved technology for nurses.
Karen Lynas, deputy managing director of the NHS Leadership Academy, told Nursing Times the aim was for every ward, every community service, and every place where patients come into contact with nursing staff to benefit from the investment.
She said: “Our programmes will be about developing nurses’ skills, knowledge, confidence and competence in leadership and will create a generation of nurses who, not only provide exceptional care to patients, but act as role models and inspirational leaders for the next generation of nurses and care givers.”
Nurse leaders welcomed the investment, noting long term problems with access to leadership training for the profession and in particular ward managers. However, they also cautioned that culture could not be changed by training alone.
Howard Catton, head of policy at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “There have been areas, particularly in the role of the ward sister, where there has been a lack of support and investment.”
He added: “I’m not sure you can train a culture problem away, but what I think you can do is start to create much more confident clinicians and nurses who will be able to stand up and challenge and advocate for high quality.”
Former nurse Sir Stephen Moss, who became chair of Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust in the immediate aftermath of the revelations of its serious care failings, said: “You are not going to eradicate poor culture just by education. Training isn’t the only solution; it is one part of it.
“Until you get the culture right you will continue to let down staff and patients. An organisation with bad culture will knock the stuffing out of an individual nurse.”