The new nursing director at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust has said nursing staff morale is now “very good”, and that she wants the hospital to become one of the best in the country.
Diane Sarkar said making herself visible to nursing staff and board members was a central theme in helping to improve nursing quality at the hospital, 12 months after it was heavily criticised by the Care Quality Commission last November.
The CQC concerns were followed by a report in March by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which highlighted “a perceived lack of confidence in the ability of the chief executive and director of nursing to foster a culture of strong leadership and team working amongst the nursing and midwifery staff”.
Ms Sarkar was appointed director of nursing last week, having held the post on an interim basis since September. By the time of her appointment, four of the five conditions for registration imposed on the trust by the CQC in April – including the condition relating to the NMC’s concerns – had been lifted.
Ms Sarkar told Nursing Times the next year would be challenging for the trust as it attempted to continue to improve quality while also dealing with the financial pressures facing the NHS as a whole.
But she said: “We have to aspire to be the best. I will be challenging to them [nursing staff] and also to the board.
“One of the key challenges is to energise the nursing and midwifery workforce here. It’s about enhancing confidence, among both patients and staff.”
Key to this, she said, was maintaining her own high visibility to staff, patients and managers.
Ms Sarkar said: “For me as director of nursing, it’s vital that I’m visible. I need to be seen. That is one of the controls I can use to give assurance to the board.”
She has begun work on a
new nursing and midwifery strategy for the trust and is also
“rebadging” the trust’s nursing directorate as a directorate of quality, innovation and patient safety, to increase its influence at board level.
Ms Sarkar’s appointment coincides with the launch this week of the public inquiry into care failings at Mid Staffordshire foundation trust – another trust whose high profile problems included failures in nursing standards.