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Frontline nurses asked for their views on ability to innovate

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Nurses are being asked for their views on how well they are supported to innovate at the front line, and what aspects of their work could benefit from trying out new approaches.

Innovation charity Nesta wants to understand the extent to which nursing staff are supported to both voice and try out new ideas.

“We’re interested in models of leadership that empower the frontline to help solve problems”

Halima Khan

In partnership with Nursing Times, Nesta is surveying nurses across the UK on their attitudes and experiences of trying to introduce new ideas and ways of working.

They short survey asks whether nurses feel the health and care system in general has a culture of listening to and acting on the ideas of those working at the front line.

It also includes questions on whether nurses have ideas for how to improve the service they work in, if they feel supported by their team and managers to come forward with or try new ideas and what gets in the way of them trying out new ideas in their department.

Nesta said it was particularly interested in surveying Nursing Times readers as they have some of the most creative and innovative ideas, which may not be being heard or acted upon by managers.

In addition, they said they specifically wanted to get the views of those who worked directly with patients or people with lived experience across the whole of the health and social care system.

The results of the survey, which is now live, will be revealed in July at the Nesta Health Summit, which is set to focus on leadership. 

Halima Khan, executive director of Health, people and impact at Nesta, said: “Our summit this year is set to focus on the need for bold and fresh models of leadership that will help us take on the challenges we face in the health and care system today.

“In particular, we’re interested in models of leadership that empower the frontline to help solve problems and create new ways of working,” said Ms Khan.

“Ahead of it, we want to have a better understanding of how easy or difficult it is to try out new ideas at the frontline and the extent to which staff feel supported to come forward and try out new ideas,” she said.

She added: “We really appreciate you taking the time to fill out our survey. Your views will add new insights, building on five years of Nesta’s work testing innovative approaches to improving services and care.”

Over the last five years, Nesta’s 100 Day Challenge programmes have found innovative methods which try and test ideas from the front line can radically improve care and patient outcomes.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • It will be interesting to see the results of the survey. When we looked at this issue in 2013, we surveyed nurses across the UK and found that when NHS clinicians were asked what were the most important things in helping them take innovation forward in the NHS, the top five answers were:
    • attitude of senior managers in your organisation (31%)
    • attitude of middle managers in your organisation (29%)
    • being taught the skills and knowledge for innovation (29%)
    • protected time (22%)
    • access to senior managers in your organisation (17%)

    When asked what would help them innovate in the future, the main issue was being given protected time (cited by 57% of respondents).

    We were surprised to see that managers' attitudes were perceived to be the biggest barrier to innovation. This challenges the widespread belief that to make clinical innovation happen, the most important issue is funding and resources. While manager’s attitudes are something that can be changed without costing anything, 38% of NHS clinicians in our survey said it's difficult, very difficult or impossible to access their Chief Executive. Changing attitudes might be cheaper, but it's still difficult.

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