A UK hospital trust is taking steps towards becoming the only organisation in the country with accreditation for nursing excellence from an international scheme founded in the US.
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been working for 18 months on its application for Magnet status, which is granted by the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center, an affiliate of the American Nurses Association.
“There was a feeling among nurses that they wanted Oxford back on the map as a leading place for nursing”
To achieve accreditation, an organisation has to demonstrate it is meeting a series of standards which include those on national safe staffing policies, minimum training levels and around nurse-sensitive clinical indicator data.
The scheme has in other countries improved nurse recruitment and retention at accredited organisations, with a recent study also suggesting Magnet hospitals were associated with lower mortality rates after surgery.
Oxford University Hospitals’ progress has attracted interest from around 10 other UK organisations, including Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.
It led to the creation of the UK Magnet Alliance earlier this year, a group to support others considering Magnet accreditation.
“When you read those standards, there is nothing a good hospital shouldn’t be doing already”
Oxford University Hospitals is looking at changes it can make to improve nurse education and training as part of its application, which could take up to eight years to complete.
To meet the requirement for all band 7 and above nurses to have degrees, it will pay for additional training courses for relevant staff to “top up”.
The trust will also need to demonstrate year-on-year increases in the numbers of nurses with certification in areas of clinical specialities, as well as improvements in staff satisfaction surveys – which it has already seen.
It expects these standards to be supported by revalidation, the new system of registration renewal being brought in the by the Nursing and Midwifery Council from April, which requires minimum levels of continuing professional development and mandatory discussion of reflective practice.
Professor Dickon Weir-Hughes, a former director of nursing and NMC chief executive, is co-ordinating the Magnet programme at Oxford University Hospitals.
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He said the trust began its application because nurses remembered “leading the way” in nursing during the 1990s, adding: “They had unique work at Oxford, particularly in care of the elderly and a system of nursing called primary nursing.
“There was a feeling among nurses that had been around a bit longer that they wanted Oxford back on the map as a leading place for nursing,” he said. “But they didn’t want it just as hearsay they wanted to be able to demonstrate it.”
Only around 6% of hospitals in the US have so far achieved Magnet status. Rochdale Infirmary in Lancashire is the only UK hospital to have previously been accredited. However, after achieving the status in 2002, it later withdrew from the programme following a trust merger.
Professor Weir-Hughes said he believed many trusts in the UK were put-off by the Magnet scheme because it was viewed as an American system that was not needed in the UK, which he said was “short-sighted”.
Dickon Weir Hughes1
Meanwhile, some viewed the lengthy accreditation process as being “too difficult” but, “when you read those standards, there is nothing a good hospital shouldn’t be doing already,” he said.
There was also some resistance from those who believed standards of nursing care should focus on a multi-disciplinary team, he said.
However, he did acknowledge the “overwhelming” volume of change in the NHS was problematic for organisations trying to focus on long-term developmental initiatives.