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US hospital 'kite mark' scheme could boost nurse retention

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Nursing directors should be actively explore the adoption of a US accreditation programme that recognises excellence in nursing care, according to the lead nurse piloting the scheme in the NHS.

The Magnet recognition programme, developed by the American Academy of Nursing in the 1980s, awards a “kite mark” to hospitals that satisfy a set of criteria designed to measure the strength and quality of nursing care.

It focuses on good leadership, using data to improve nursing quality, and supporting nurse education and involvement in decision making. Evidence is collected by the trust over a period of around two years and then sent to the American Nurses Credentialing Centre for evaluation.

South London and Maudsley Foundation Trust is the only UK trust currently working towards gaining Magnet accreditation.

Rochdale Infirmary in Lancashire was awarded Magnet status in 2002 but failed to renew it later that year when the trust became part of Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust.

South London’s Magnet recognition programme director Jane Sayer said implementing the scheme more widely in the UK could help improve the quality of nursing care, and recruitment and retention of the nursing workforce.

Ms Sayer, formerly the trust’s deputy director of nursing, said evidence showed nurses working in US hospitals with Magnet status had higher levels of job satisfaction, lower staff turnover and better educational opportunities than other hospitals.

“The perception is that the scheme is only suited to the US system, so is not very well known in the UK. But it is about addressing standards of nursing practice and delivering good quality patient care which should be the same aim wherever you are,” she told Nursing Times.

“Nursing directors should be actively pursuing this to look at what it could bring to their organisation,” she said.

However, dean of King’s College London’s Florence Nightingale school of nursing and midwifery Anne Marie Rafferty said implementing the scheme in the UK may present “a different set of challenges” to the US.

Professor Rafferty, who evaluated the impact of the Magnet programme in Rochdale, said: “[The scheme] is a great thing for demonstrating improvements in the practice environment and helping to retain staff, but we have to consider the shape and size of our organisations compared to the US.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • I worked in one of these so called Magnet Hospitals -Its all a load of bull....

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  • Latterlife Midwife

    Well, a few years ago, I retired from a large US hospital that was working towards, and has just achieved, Magnet status and I'm extremely proud of them for doing so. 'A load of bull....'? Hardly.

    An administration that is going for Magnet status could not continue short-changing staff numbers to the extent apparent here in the UK because the results couldn't possibly come out well in the end.

    Yes, there was a lot of grumbling in the beginning (such as having to do lengthy acuity scoring of patients) but we came to understand this helped us by showing in black & white how many nursing hours were truly required to handle patients' needs.

    Uniformly raising standards of care and staffing levels making for more satisfied nurses/midwives? Don't tell me you don't want to work at a hospital that does both! I hope that when my NHS Trust settles down after a big upcoming move/merger, they might consider initiating the process as a test case for whether the Magnet model might work in the UK. Money might just become magically allocated to nursing care.

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