Heart of England Foundation Trust has postponed plans to build England’s only hospital based school of nursing. The decision comes at the same time as concerns have arisen over a culture of “learned helplessness” among its nurses.
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The trust, which told Nursing Times the two issues were unconnected, had been hoping to provide pre-registration training as well as a “finishing school” for newly qualified nurses.
But board papers say this has been “stepped back somewhat because of the need to concentrate on more pressing issues”.
Chief nurse Mandie Sunderland told Nursing Times the plans had been “put on the back burner” while the trust considered the massive changes to the NHS set out in last month’s white paper.
She said: “Everyone’s really busy with all the changes.
“There has been a lot going on at a strategic level in the last couple of months, which has meant it [the nursing school] isn’t really a priority.”
Minutes of the trust’s June board meeting show it had a lengthy discussion about nursing standards at the trust, particularly at Good Hope Hospital.
Referring to work on reducing serious untoward incidents, the minutes say the “big issues” are “predominantly around nursing”.
They state: “Ms Sunderland explained that it was about attitude and behaviour, standards of professionalism and projecting a professional image.”
As of the June meeting seven ward sisters had been suspended over care issues and other nurses were subject to disciplinary action.
The minutes say Ms Sunderland was “seeing individual matrons to discuss their needs” and thought it might be necessary to “question the role of the matron”, the papers say.
She is also quoted as “reiterating the need for culture change and need to move away from a learned helplessness, which had developed at Good Hope.”
Ms Sunderland told Nursing Times the problems were “nothing suspicious” or concerned confidential incidents, and that they were unrelated to either the nursing school decision or a review of nursing at the trust.
This review was being carried out in light of the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust scandal, in common with other trusts across the country, she said.
The problems were also unrelated to a review last year, mentioned in the paper, that criticised neonatal and paediatric services, she said.