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Career progression tool and preceptorship standards launched for nurses in capital

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A free digital tool designed to help nurses progress in their careers has been launched in London along with voluntary standards for preceptorships, as part of efforts to keep the capital’s nursing staff in the profession.

The digital career framework has been developed by the Capital Nurse programme, a London-wide project that is aimed at improving retention of health service nurses in the city.

The digital career tool, described by those behind it as the “nursing skills Fitbit”, allows nurses to reflect on and record their career progression – and provides a template for a discussion with a senior staff member about how to advance.

“Some of the nurses who tested out the framework said they had never had a conversation that is purely about their career with anybody before”

Chris Caldwell

It is divided into nine areas of clinical practice – communication, teamwork, leadership professionalism, research, safety and quality, facilitation of learning, and development of others.

A total of 34 NHS acute, community and mental health NHS trusts in London have said they will use the new framework, and the majority of GP practices are also said to be looking to introduce it.

The tool was launched at an event in London yesterday following testing by 14 NHS organisations, including North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Barts Health NHS Trust and Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (see below for full list).

Those behind it said it differed to other career development tools because it belonged to nurses, instead of their managers. It also prompted the use of “360° feedback” – which includes gathering comments from a range of staff, patients and peers – by all nurses, rather than just senior staff.

“If nurses couldn’t see what their next step was they started to look around at other jobs”

Chris Caldwell

Research by the Capital Nurse programme found many nurses left the city within the first five years of qualifying. Out of a group of 46,000 nurses working in the NHS in London in 2012, only 55% remained by 2017, according to data analysis.

Linked to this, a set of voluntary standards for supporting newly-qualified nurses through their preceptorship period have also been agreed for the first time by trusts across the city, as part of the programme’s work.

Preceptorship should be provided for a minimum of six to 12 months for all newly-qualified nurses, and every trust should have a member of staff who leads the support programme, according to the preceptorship framework, which was also launched yesterday.

According to Capital Nurse programme director Chris Caldwell, nurses said the “absence of a clear career roadmap” contributed to their reasons for leaving a job.

“Following preceptorship, if nurses couldn’t see what their next step was they started to look around at other jobs or perhaps consider other options, such as going travelling,” said Ms Caldwell.

“If we can tell people their next step will be a certain of type of training or a new experience then we will keep them a bit longer,” she said. “Nurse directors we speak to say, if we could just keep our nurses for another six months, that would make such a difference.”

“We want to make sure we don’t make nurses train again for the same role – that’s where you waste the money”

Chris Caldwell

Ms Cadwell added: “Some of the nurses who tested out the framework said they had never had a conversation that is purely about their career with anybody before. They’ve had an appraisal – but that is focused on performance.” 

It is hoped the tool will help nurses gain additional experience or training, as well as assisting them with moving into senior roles.

Ms Caldwell said: “It’s not all about getting though the grades, because most nurses will spend the majority of their career – where we need them – in a staff nurse role.

“If you’re going to be a nurse for 30 years there is no reason why you can’t move across roles with new skills – for example from community to hospital,” she said.

She highlighted that the Capital Nurse project was also working with the regulator NHS Improvement on its nurse retention programme, to ensure organisations understood why staff left and were supporting nurses to progress in their careers.

Nursing Times asked how far nurses would be able to receive additional training when national budgets for continuing professional had been cut by 60% in the past two years.

Ms Caldwell noted that the Capital Nurse programme was also producing city-wide standards for specialist nurse roles, which would save employers CPD money, because new recruits from other London organisations would not have to be re-trained.

“We want to maximise the value of every training opportunity,” she said. “We want to make sure we don’t make nurses train again for the same role – that’s where you waste the money.

“We know that in London, for a long time now, if you were a cancer nurse and you moved from one centre to another, the new place would make you do their training,” she added.

The Capital Nurse programme was set up in 2015 to boost the training, recruitment and retention of nurses in London, and is funded by national bodies Health Education England, NHS Improvement and NHS England.

Last year, the programme launched a “cancer care passport” for London’s oncology specialist nurses, so they could demonstrate they were qualified and competent to deliver systemic anti-cancer therapy (SACT), and move between organisations without re-training.

Trusts that tested the digital career framework  

South West London and St Georges Mental Health NHS Trust

Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust

North Middlesex University Hospital Trust

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

West London Mental Health NHS Trust

Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

Croydon Health Services NHS Trust

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust

London North West Healthcare NHS Trust

Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust

Barts Health NHS Trust

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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