Nearly a quarter of PCTs do not have a director of nursing with voting rights on their board, according to a survey carried out by the RCN.
The college said all PCTs should have such a post to ‘ensure that the voice of nursing is properly represented within the governance of the NHS’.
Last October, it assessed the ‘nature, remit and extent’ of the role across 152 trusts in England. Overall, 72% of PCTs said they did have an executive director of nursing with voting rights, while 20% said they did not.
The RCN said it was unable to confirm the status of the remaining 8% due to an apparent confusion among trusts about the difference between the Professional Executive Committee and the board.
‘Some PCTs appeared to believe that it was sufficient to have a nurse at PEC level who could attend board meetings but who was not able to vote. Such a nurse is not an executive director of nursing or a full member of the board.’
It is the first time such a survey has been undertaken and the college said it planned to repeat the exercise on an annual basis.
RCN general secretary Peter Carter said: ‘Nurses spend more time with patients than any other health professional, so it makes sense for them to be a key part of the decisions which impact on the care that patients receive.
‘Nurses are also often the first to identify where things are going wrong. Trusts are missing out on valuable expertise that could help nip any problems in the bud.’