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Free-up Scottish charge nurses 'to lead', says RCN

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Senior nurses must be free to lead their teams and not forced to cover day-to-day nursing duties, the Royal College of Nursing has urged in a manifesto published ahead of Scottish parliament election.

At the moment senior charge nurses, who lead hospital, community and mental health teams, are under “intolerable pressure”, said the RCN document, which warns nurses are being put off taking on senior roles because of the strain involved.

Theresa Fyffe

Theresa Fyffe

Theresa Fyffe

“On top of their leadership, management and mentoring responsibilities, these nurses are expected to cover day-to-day nursing duties if their team is short staffed,” said the manifesto, highlighting the “pivotal role” senior charge nurses play in promoting high standards of care.

“These highly-skilled and experienced professionals are under intolerable pressure. It is no longer a role which many of our members aspire to because of the ever-increasing burden being placed upon senior charge nurses,” stated the manifesto.

The document calls on Scotland’s next group of MSPs to support efforts to ensure all senior charge nurses are supernumerary and “have the time to lead their times”.

Nursing team leaders’ pay should also reflect the experience and expertise needed to take on leadership roles and the huge responsibility involved, it added.

“Our manifesto asks future MSPs to support some practical steps”

Theresa Fyffe

In addition, the manifesto sets out other four other key issues that RCN Scotland believes need to be addresses as a matter of urgency.

These include better workforce planning and the idea every new health and care policy should be assessed in an attempt to gauge the impact on the workforce.

“Since 2011 there have been numerous government-led reviews, working groups and taskforces looking at different aspects of health care,” stated the manifesto.

“Too often their recommendations pull our healthcare professionals in different directions, asking them to change the way that they work without considering the additional skills and knowledge they need to do so,” it noted.

As part of workforce planning, those in charge must also ensure “every member of the multi-disciplinary team” has protected time for ongoing professional development, the document added.

Other priorities set out ahead of the election in May this year include the need to take a more long-term approach to planning healthcare, improve access to the latest technology and ensure better pay and conditions for nurses.

Speaking at the manifesto’s launch, RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe described the document as “the voice of our members”.

“Our manifesto asks future MSPs to support some practical steps which, if implemented, will build more sustainable health care services for generations to come,” she said.

The 2016 Scottish parliament election is to be held on Thursday, 5 May.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • This problem is not pertinent to Scotland I work in North Wales and the situation is much the same here.
    Staff shortages on the big busy Surgical, Orthopaedic and Medical ward every day, often running at levels below the recommended nurse/ patient ratio.
    As seniors we are often being asked to give up our Managerial time and go and bolster the numbers on the wards which in turn puts us under immense pressure as we try to catch up with the work that we should have done on these days.
    When I speak to my staff nurses about succession planning nobody wants senior posts now as they see the pressure we are under and it puts them off. Who can blame them!

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