More than half of nursing directors are “cautiously optimistic” they can protect the quality of nursing in the face of the financial cuts to come, according to a Nursing Times survey.
But the full poll results cast doubt over whether they have the authority to do so.
Nursing Times’ 360 degree appraisal-style survey asked nurses, managers and directors of nursing themselves their views on the role of the nursing director.
Eight out of 10 DoNs say they are “always taken seriously” and have “influence over major decisions about investment and the strategic direction” of their organisation, but just 54 per cent of managers agree.
More than a third of managers say nursing issues are not taken as seriously as targets and finance and more than one in 10 say their director of nursing “lacks the clout” to contribute to the strategic thinking of their organisation.
The results come as many nursing directors gather in Newcastle this week for the annual chief nursing officer summit, which is expected to focus on protecting quality as the NHS tries to save £20bn over the next five years.
Nursing Times’ survey suggests some nursing directors struggle to have an impact on the board of NHS trusts. Dartford and Gravesham Trust director of nursing Jenny Kay said she had not experienced problems herself, but added: “Perhaps sometimes nurse directors need to put forward solutions, not just tell people about problems.”
Asked whether they have more, less or the same status in their organisation as the medical director, the majority of nursing directors (56 per cent) say they have the same. But just 41 per cent agree managers their nursing and medical directors are on a par and over a third say they have less status.
Nurses view DoNs’ status as lower still, with only a fifth seeing them on an equal footing with the medical director and a third saying they are below them. A fifth are unable to say how influential their director of nursing is, mainly because they say they have “no idea” who they are.
But there is praise from a significant minority of nurses, with 39 per cent saying they are either “second only to the chief executive on nursing matters” or they are a professional “leader and role model”. Such positive reports predominately come from DoNs’ closest nurse peers, the matrons.
More than 1,400 visitors to the websites of Nursing Times and sister title Health Service Journal completed our online surveys, with specific sets of questions targeted at each staff group.
There was considerable consensus on the areas where nursing directors have had the most positive impact, with almost nine out of 10 DoNs saying they have had a positive impact on infection control and nearly two thirds of managers agreeing.
Nurses also rank this area as DoNs’ biggest success, although more than half (58 per cent) say their director of nursing has not influenced any positive changes. Such dissatisfaction is highest (75 per cent) among staff nurses.
Half of nursing directors believe they have had a positive impact on saving money, but only a quarter of managers agree – suggesting DoNs either stake unwarranted claims to savings or their efforts go unrecognised.