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Better support for nurses vital to improving care, says leading academic


Nurses must be better supported by the NHS, as their experience directly impacts on their ability to provide good patient care, according to a leading nursing academic.

Jill Maben, director of the National Nursing Research Unit at King’s College London, highlighted the “importance of staff experience” in her inaugural lecture as a professor on 1 May.

“You can’t have good patient experience without good staff experience,” she said, stating that recent research by the NNRU had proven a link between the two.  

“The question we should be asking is: how do we support nurses better so they are not overwhelmed and they don’t become indifferent [to patients’ needs],” she said.

“Students enter the profession to give good care, yet ideals, compassion and empathy erode and can become crushed in poor practice environments. Lack of staff, no role models, little support and preceptorship contribute to this erosion.

“An inability to provide good care saps motivation and, indeed, when they can’t give good care moral distress ensues,” she warned.

Professor Maben called for increased use of innovations such as “Schwartz rounds” and “restorative supervision”, in which staff attend regular sessions where they can discuss difficult emotional and social issues arising from patient or reflect on experiences.

But she also said the profession needed to “push hard” for minimum nurse-patient ratios, noting that understaffing was a recurrent theme described by nurses in her research.

In addition, she said more support was needed for the “neglected” ward sister role and suggested that trust board meetings hear “staff stories” in the same way that many already hear patient stories.

“Nurses need to feel valued, listened to and get timely accurate feedback to feel engaged – and there absolutely is a link between staff experiences of work and patient experiences of care,” she said. “If the job is making nurses sick, why not fix the job, rather than the nurses.”

  • Some of Professor Maben’s recent research on the topic is described in the NNRU’s latest Policy Plus research summary report:

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Readers' comments (7)

  • Pussy

    Leading academic my a***!

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  • why are they coming up with all these various research reports on things that have been known, stated and taken for granted for years? has the NHS been in a deep slumber or something?

    you have all these fancy highly paid managers but have none every studied any of the established management theories or read the large volume of literature on how to treat and manage staff? no wonder the government wants to send leaders at great cost over to Harvard (although there are cheaper means and it is all there in the books and just requires some little application of what is known as common sense!).

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  • jane Smith | 16-Aug-2013 4:58 pm

    What's your problem?

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  • Anonymous | 16-Aug-2013 5:37 pm

    "why are they coming up with all these various research reports on things that have been known, stated and taken for granted for years?"

    Maybe because Nursing is supposed to be an evidence based profession and many of the 'beliefs' that were held for years, were found to be wrong in the face of properly researched evidence. Look at the evolution of care and treatment.

    When you talk about "common sense", are you talking about Roman, Aristotlelian or Cartesan? What do you think about Descartes assertion that logical method should be followed and common sense should not everly relied upon? Then there is 20th century philosophy of Vico and Kant, Ranciere and Arendt. Or are you just talking out of you a*** like jane Smith | 16-Aug-2013 4:58 pm?

    Without research and researchers, you would kill and maim many more than you currently do.

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  • Anonymous | 20-Aug-2013 2:21 pm

    there is no need to be insulting and I can see you are just trying to show off your knowledge. However, if you read my question, it was about management theory and how to get the best out of staff and nothing whatsoever to do with the evidence base of knowledge on nursing care.

    I was also questioning why endless invesigations and reporting on them are being carried out rather than any signs of action and improvements when there is already considerable management theory on how to look after and support staff and on learning organisations. I know it is possible as I have spent a good part of my career in a large efficient European university hospital which cared for both its patients at the highest level and also its staff to get the very best out of them and all I wish for is the same for my colleagues in the NHS as I have proof that it can be done.

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  • Anonymous | 20-Aug-2013 2:38 pm

    If you don't like to have your point of view being challenged then take it somewhere else. If you are going to be disparaging and insulting (as you were), then it's a bit rich to take offence when you are called on it!

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  • Anonymous | 20-Aug-2013 3:56 pm

    I am not sure what the problem is. I was just pointing out you that it was not necessary to insult me for a comment I made.

    "Or are you just talking out of you a*** like jane Smith | 16-Aug-2013 4:58 pm?"

    I have no objection to my point of view being challenged whatsoever but was explaining my post as you did not challenge my argument at all but brought up a totally different issue which had nothing to do with what my comment said.

    It is a good idea to read them and see what has actually been written before challenging them.

    Do you object to comments which support nurses and their need for better working conditions for them in the NHS?

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