Attempts to transform nursing care are threatened by plans to axe national bodies in charge of quality improvement, patient safety and public health, nurse leaders have warned.
Nurse leaders are particularly concerned about the abolition of the NHS Institute, as it is not clear whether or not its work will continue at another organisation.
Nurses fear that programmes such as the institute’s Productive Ward series will be jeopardised.
Productive Ward has helped free up nurses to spend more time with patients by streamlining
processes such as handovers. The institute has also been involved in rolling out the high impact actions for nurses
and midwives, aimed at helping the NHS save £9bn.
“While this work has been practically completed by the institute, it will now be further spread and embedded as part of the wider quality and productivity agenda [QIPP] and will be taken forward by the NHS at a local level.”
However, others have questioned how lessons learnt from this work will be disseminated across the NHS without coordination by a central body.
National Nursing Research Unit director Peter Griffiths said:”It does seem clear that it will be harder to develop, coordinate and marshal resources behind these sorts of developments in a more decentralised system.”
Strategic health authorities’ role in supporting the high impact actions and Productive Ward Series has also been important, but these too are being abolished from 2012 onwards, he added.
Around 90 per cent of trusts have been involved in Productive Ward.
Professor Griffiths’ evaluation of the programme, published earlier this year, found it had a “huge perceived valueand local impact”. It had led to improved ward level leadership and patient experiences, cost savings and
higher staff satisfaction and retention.
Royal College of Nursing head of policy Howard Catton said: “The NHS Institute filled a role in identifying, supporting and sharing good practice. My concern is this function will become
The Department of Health review of arm’s length bodies, which set out the changes last week, said responsibility for improving patient outcomes should be at “every level of the NHS” rather than just quangos. The NHS commissioning board will also play a leading role.
Institute chief executive Bernard Crump said this could secure better “buy in” from trusts because organisations would need to decide for themselves which services they were prepared to invest in.
However, Nursing Times understands that the institute does not own the intellectual property rights to its products and would need permission for them to be handed over from the Crown.
Lynne Maher, director of innovation at the institute, said programmes would be “accelerated” between now and 2012, when the organisation is due to close.
NHS South West director of patient care and nursing Liz Redfern said it was up to nurses to continue the work after that date. She said: “Even though they [Productive Ward programmes] have been heavily badged with the institute, I don’t think they’ll end in demise.”
Imperial College Healthcare Trust director of nursing Janice Sigsworth agreed, saying it was “absolutely essential” that senior nurses also championed the high impact actions and nursing metrics.
The NPSA, which employs 21 nurses, is also being abolished, with some responsibilities related to reporting on and learning from patient safety incidents being moved to the NHS commissioning board.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said that some jobs would be transferred and that the department was working closely with HR teams.