A hospital trust has announced it is to recruit 40 band 5 nurses in order to help enable ward sisters to devote more of their time to leadership and management roles.
County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust wants its ward sisters and charge nurses to spend 80% of their time on supervising wards and line management, and the remaining 20% on delivering care to patients.
Acting director of nursing Diane Murphy told Nursing Times that currently the percentage was the other way round, with sisters spending around 80% of their time delivering direct care to patients.
This situation had developed over a number of years due to an increase in demand for the trusts’ acute services, she said.
The trust is planning to spend £800,000 a year on extra ward manager training and recruiting the extra band 5 nurses it requires to ensure there is no reduction in direct nursing care.
The plans were backed by the Royal College of Nursing. Glenn Turp, RCN regional director for the North, said the trust should be “congratulated for setting the benchmark high” and that he hoped other trusts “will now follow their lead”.
He said: “The role of the supervisory ward sister is crucial, because it means that all patients will know exactly who is ultimately responsible for the overall continuity of their care.”
The Nursing and Care Quality Forum has called for sisters and other nursing team leaders to be counted as entirely “supernumerary” on rotas. In its initial recommendations to prime minister David Cameron last month, the forum said nursing team leaders needed “time to lead”.