The Department of Health has named dozens of nurses it believes are among the top leaders in the NHS.
There are 63 people whose titles include “nurse” or “nursing” in the list of the health service’s 827 “top leaders”, raising hopes that the profession will be in a stronger position to influence national decisions.
Everyone on the list has been identified by the DH’s Top Leaders programme as already holding a top leadership post or having the ability to move into one in future.
They will receive extra coaching, secondment opportunities, tailored career plans and support to find new posts.
Bolton Hospitals Trust deputy chief executive and director of nursing and performance improvement Lesley Doherty said: “Our voices are already powerful locally - nursing is certainly on the agenda at my trust board.
“This is putting nurses at the top table, which is great.”
She added: “I don’t see it as a gateway to the next job necessarily but as a way we to help make the NHS a better place to be.” The nursing leaders would be a “force to be reckoned with,” she said.
A central aim of the scheme is to ensure that there is a wider pool of talent for chief executive jobs, which often attract just one candidate.
Ms Doherty said she hoped it would show nurses that they are able to work in a variety of roles.
She said: “I’m a nurse first and foremost but I’d like nurses to take more of a gamble in looking at more non-nursing roles.”
The 63 nurses include 35 nursing directors, eight chief nurses and a range of other titles.
Names include NHS Norfolk chief nurse Maureen Carson, NHS London chief nurse Trish Morris-Thompson and Southampton University Hospital Trust director of nursing Judy Gillow.
They will be joined by 134 chief executives, 90 people working in finance, 60 medical directors, 26 communications specialists, 26 public health experts and many others.
The programme is being championed by NHS East Midlands chief executive Dame Barbara Hakin, through her role on the National Leadership Council.
Dame Barbara said: “This has been contentious because it’s the first time ever that the NHS hasn’t just offered the same level of development to everyone. Private companies have done it for a long time.
“The people who have been identified will be pleased that they’re seen as having great potential. The challenge for us is to make sure that the development actually adds some value to their lives and careers.”