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Nurses must be managed by nurses, congress told

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Nursing directors should have sole responsibility for line managing nurses, the Royal College of Nursing has voted.

Delegates at the RCN’s annual congress voted overwhelmingly for the motion last Wednesday. The RCN council will now consider adopting it as a policy.

RCN head of policy development and implementation Howard Catton said: “We are moving away from what we saw in the 1980s where there was questioning of the role of clinical management. I’m very pleased that we are where we are in that regard.

“No other profession - teachers, police - would tolerate being line managed by someone from outside.”

The RCN told the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery that nursing directors should decide the size and skill mix of their trusts’ nursing staff.

In November, a Nursing Times survey found that more than two thirds of nurses said they had never seen their nursing director spend time on a ward.

Nurses also believed their nursing director lacked clout, with a third saying their status was below that of the medical director, despite the majority of nursing directors viewing themselves as being on an equal or more superior footing.

At the congress debate, the Foundation of Nursing Leadership co-founder David Dawes, who is among the few nurses to have been a chief executive, said many NHS organisations’ management teams were “totally dependent” on nursing directors to understand nursing issues.

He said: “Nursing staff don’t inherently make better managers but the most important part of line managing nurses is the standard - if it is good or excellent care [or] if it is not. That is a professional nursing judgement, and you simply can’t make a judgment without that knowledge.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Full Circle! Thank goodness nursing has come to its senses. I was a Chief Area Nurse with line management responsibility for the entire nursing service for 27 hospitals and 52 health centers. The introduction of general management in the late 80s ruined this management control and nursing became responsible to often or not none-nurses.

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  • I've hardly had any management for the last decade. I'd tolerate being managed by anyone.

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