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Trusts 'need clinical facilitators'

  • 4 Comments

NHS trusts should have clinical facilitators on their payroll to increase staff education, morale and enhance patient care, according to research.

That is the finding of Bill Whitehead, programme leader PG Cert in Interprofessional Practice Education at the University of Derby as part of his doctorate called: “An investigation into the effects of clinical facilitator nurses on medical wards.”

He argues that these roles, which first emerged on wards at the start of the 21st century, are critical during the current uncertainty within the NHS.

Before them ward sisters, clinical teachers and lecturers taught nurses and other health professionals the ropes on wards.

Dr Whitehead said: “Clinical facilitators are employed by care providers such as NHS trusts rather than educational institutions such as universities. Their role is to support and teach nurses and healthcare assistants on hospital wards.

“They are seen as supportive and this helps to encourage recruitment and retention of staff which leads to improved nurse to patient ratios and better patient outcomes. Clinical facilitators endeavour to positively contribute to the professional development of our nursing colleagues.

“The potential benefits of clinical facilitation include increased levels of staff morale, effective change management, improved quality of patient care, an empowered nursing profession and a positive impact upon recruitment and retention.”

During his qualitative research interviewing newly qualified nurses and final year students, Dr Whitehead discovered that these groups think clinical facilitators help others to boost their skills and the quality of patient care.

They also manage learning, champion clinical skills and prioritise education in the clinical area.

Dr Whitehead said: “Their role is vital - it changes the ‘sitting with Nellie’ concept to real teaching and learning for nurses. Not only that, but such posts are relatively inexpensive and highly productive, providing real education in the clinical area and also encouraging student recruitment and retention.”


  • 4 Comments

Readers' comments (4)

  • Look around to increase staff moral we need more staff, less paperwork etc shall I continue where do er get ther money from for another post?????

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  • bill whitehead

    I agree that the most important thing for both morale and patient care is to increase front line staff numbers. Clinical facilitators are of course front line staff. They work alongside staff caring for patients. They are often employed within the existing ward budgets and are valued by both managers and colleagues. They provide support, improve care skills, and provide a front line post which staff often aspire to fill. This last improves the retention of valuable experienced clinical nurses involved in direct patient care. Otherwise these experienced nurses would move to managerial or non-clinical education roles.

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  • I couldn'e agree more with Professor Whitehead. In Scotland, we have Practice Education Facilitators whose key role is to support mentors, who in turn support the learning for front line staff.
    We know that a good learning environment equates with a good clinical environment and many of the factors that effect that are the very same factors that are mentioned in this research. Its about visible leadership, role modelling and person centred care for patients and staff!

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  • bill whitehead

    The UK Clinical Nurse Educator Network has been set up on the back of this research and that of Liz Allibone https://www.facebook.com/groups/CNENet/

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