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NHS regulator’s top nurse promises support for nursing directors

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The head of nursing at the new NHS regulator has said she is committed to supporting current and future nurse leadership around the country.

Ruth May, executive director of nursing at NHS Improvement, has set out a raft of initiatives she planned to implement that reflected the regulator’s intention of being more supportive in approach than its predecessors.

“I want to have an oversupply of deputy directors of nursing going for director positions”

Ruth May

She said she was looking at setting up a formal support package for directors of nursing that were struggling, which would “scoop them up, look after them and relaunch them back into the system to where they want to be”.

Ms May also said she was creating a “silver surfers club” consisting of “very experienced” older nurse leaders nearing the end of their careers who would support her on a part-time basis by going into trusts to carry out investigations or to support new directors of nursing.

In addition, she told delegates she wanted to put in place professional development and support for deputy directors of nursing so they had the chance to step up.

This would involve working with Nursing Times, the Royal College of Nursing and others to develop a “federation” for deputies and a formal network for chief nurses to mentor them, she said at Directors’ Congress.

She highlighted that she wanted to “ensure every deputy director of nursing across England has the opportunity to choose a director of nursing to mentor them…to help us to support our next generation of leaders”.

Ms May said she hoped to reach a point where when a vacancy for a nursing director arose, she had “half a dozen people ready to go that are ‘kitemarked’, really wanting to be a director of nursing for that organisation”.

“I want to have an oversupply of deputy directors of nursing going for director positions, so that’s really important to me,” she told the Nursing Times conference in Manchester for senior nurses.

Meanwhile, she said that NHS Improvement was on the cusp of announcing a “clinical forum” 13 directors of nursing who would advise the regulator, along with a similar number of medical directors.

Ms May added that she was starting to work closely with the chief nursing officer’s team at NHS England, which included the creation of some joint posts between the two organisations.

“In the South and in London we’re going to have a joint regional chief nurse – joint between NHS Improvement and NHS England,” she said, noting her recent appointment as one of England’s two deputy CNOs.

“I think that signals a real step to how NHS England and NHS Improvement are going to make sure we are going to work together,” she said.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Meanwhile, she said that NHS Improvement was on the cusp of announcing a “clinical forum” 13 directors of nursing who would advise the regulator, along with a similar number of medical directors.

    Please could those 13 directors of Nursing spend a month working as Band 5 nurses on busy wards before they advise anybody. Report back to "Professor" Cummings too "

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