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New generation of nurse leaders to 'help change culture'


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.”


Readers' comments (22)

  • I lost my job for standing up and speaking out about serious care failings I tried to lead by example . We must all remember there is no small thing in Nursing and it is the smallest acts of kindness and compassion that make all the difference !

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  • michael stone

    'I lost my job for standing up and speaking out about serious care failings I tried to lead by example .'

    That shouldn't happen - honestly 'speaking up' about issues, has to be regarded (by everyone) as good, not bad, behaviour.

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  • Nurses should use the idea , how would I like to be treated , when caring for patients. It is not rocket science but basic human kindness and it is the starting point for all nursing care.

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  • The bad culture mentioned is due to poorly performing but very powerful people and until managers become more accountable, and until it is recognised that nothing can be changed till they are dealt with, then the likes of Mary Greene, who tried to flag up failings, will continue to become targets and very often be destroyed in the process.
    Deal with the rogue people first.
    Julie Fagan, founder member of CAUSE

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  • Trying to put a point/augument over or challenging managers at the moment is like switching on a pre-recorded reply. They are trained puppets, yes people to higher management. I hope this new training scheme allows for a change in that approach.

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  • I remember the days when ward sisters, nursing officers and the chief nursing officer were compassionate, cared deeply about their staff and were excellent role models. The staff followed their example. God help us if we follow the example shown by some of the ward sisters I have worked with these past few years.

    They were senior nurses because they had worked their way up, worked hard, were experts in their chosen field and had and gave respect to everyone.

    I also remember the days when student nurses were personally interviewed by the Chief Nursing Officer, had continuous assessments throughout their training, were removed from the course if their behaviour or attitude was not acceptable and were given 'management' experience in their 3rd year.

    The fact that senior nurses are now having to go on a course to learn how to be a decent caring nurse is pathetic and a sign that nurse training/recruitment has gone down the plughole.

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  • Wish I could be enthusiastic that more "leadership training" was a great investment and would be effective in reversing the 'crisis in nursing care'.

    Is there any evidence at all that the millions of pounds spent over the last decade or so on "leadership training" has worked to raise standards?

    Didn't think so. Unlikely that 'more of the leadership same' without the fundamental 'culture change' (read: 'culture revolution') that Stephen Moss mentions will make much difference.

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  • tinkerbell

    sorry to sound so pesimistic but in my opinion this is all about 'new leadership' to implement the social reforms. I'm thinking they just want to ensure that the new workforce working under NHS restrictions never complain and that the private sector is promoted further and all hail puttting profit before care.

    As usual, hopefully i am wrong.

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  • Why don't they use some of the £140 million on more staff!!! If we had more staff the patients would be looked after properly and treated better??? It's not rocket science is it???

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  • is it really the current nurses and their lack of training which is the problem or a lack of nurses?

    should be investigated with publication of the results for all to read before pouring yet more of our money into the wrong bottomless hole without addressing the real issues which might just help improve patient care.

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