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Productive programme drives up ward leadership skills

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The Productive Ward programme has shown significant potential to grow leadership skills at ward level that could be incorporated into training, according to an independent review by nurse researchers.

The programme, which encourages frontline staff to make practical changes to improve quality and efficiency, was launched in 2007 by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement and has been implemented by at least 40 per cent of acute trusts.  

A review of the programme – commissioned by the institute and carried out by the National Nursing Research Unit at King’s College London – concluded that it improved staff skills, in particular ward level leadership, and “thrives where local leadership and ownership is strong”.

The report said: “The principles of the Productive Ward could provide a very practical component of leadership training programmes for NHS managers and nursing staff.”

It also said that the programme had boosted links between managers and frontline staff – so called “ward to board” engagement – because it had “interests and values” common to both groups.

The review also included results from a web survey of 150 staff involved in the programme, the majority of which said it had lead to measurable improvements.

The report said: “Respondents said the Productive Ward had given staff more time to provide direct care to patients, it had lead to better team working, well organised and calmer working environments and that staff felt less stressed.

“The most tangible outcomes for staff were time savings (more efficient practices) and time investment (increase in direct care time).”   

Chief nursing officer for England Dame Christine Beasley said: “This programme can improve the leadership skills of clinical staff at a time when enhancing their skills and competencies are critical in helping us drive quality improvement at scale across the NHS.”

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