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Warning over sacking nursing directors at failing trusts


Sacking directors of nursing and other senior figures following damning reports from regulators should not be seen as the solution to improving patient care at failing trusts, the chief inspector of hospitals at the Care Quality Commission has said.

Sir Mike Richards said that, following high profile reports in recent years, it must now be recognised that wider systemic problems often contribute to care failings and that removing senior leaders does not guarantee improved patient safety.

“It’s no good just sacking people and expecting a new supply of directors of nursing… to come along”

Sir Mike Richards

He referred to Sir Robert Francis’s inquiry into Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust and Sir Bruce Keogh’s review of 14 trusts with high mortality rates, which eventually saw 12 placed into special measures.

“At that point it became perfectly apparent that it’s no good just sacking people and expecting a new supply of directors of nursing, chief executives, medical directors to come along,” said Sir Mike, speaking yesterday at the Nursing Times’ Deputies’ Congress in London.

Mike Richards CQC chief inspector of hospitals

Sir Mike Richards

“Actually, we need to put in a support regime as well,” he said, although acknowledging that CQC’s programme for assisting failing trusts had not been carried out “universally well” and that there was room for improvement.

“People don’t want [director of nursing jobs] because there is a fear that when it goes pear-shaped you’re the person that’s in the frame”

Peter Carter

His comments echoed those made by Royal College of Nursing chief executive Peter Carter, who was also speaking at the London event.

Peter Carter RCN Deputies' Congress

Peter Carter

Referring to a case a few months ago in which a director of nursing lost their job following a critical CQC report, Dr Carter said: “I don’t  think it was particularly helpful that an individual was sacrificed, because whoever gets that job is going to find it a really tough trust with huge underlying financial problems.

“And if you haven’t got the money right, no matter how well your intention, you are going to struggle.”

He suggested director of nursing posts were becoming increasingly difficult to fill due to potential candidates fearing they could be targeted and potentially removed if problems occur.

“I am worried about nursing leadership and the number of vacancies for director of nursing posts. People don’t want them because there is a fear that when it goes pear-shaped you’re the person that’s in the frame,” said Dr Carter.


Readers' comments (9)

  • Where there is evidence of Nursing Directors colluding in the the reduction of Qualified staff and deliberately exposing patients to risk then "Sacking" is appropriate. Such people should also be reported to the NMC for investigation of their fitness to practice.

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  • Don't worry, the revolving door will spit them out somewhere cushy!

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  • Well, maybe Directors of Nursing is not the way to go, anymore. Maybe just managers might be the way to go.
    The proof is in the pudding, might be the time to try something new.

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  • If you car'nt manage, and my expirence, not many can!!...then they should def get the sack

    why get paid a big salary then mess the job up

    either do it right or get down the road

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  • Directors of Nursing who dont nurse-thats the issue!

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  • michael stone

    redpaddys12 | 13-Jun-2015 7:17 am

    The NHS learning from football, perhaps ?

    The point is true, in that it makes little sense to sack DoNs if the system they were stuck in, as opposed to their own performance, was the main problem. Of course, it is always fairly easy to 'blame the other guy', especially in something as complex as the NHS.

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  • Well omce again we ALL know what we shouldn't do, has anyone in the NHS got any constructive ideas. If people are not held responsible for their high paid management jobs just how do we ever get any good management in Senior roles.The answer is not to leave obviously inept people in charge, hey, I have an idea why don,t we side track them or promote them or just pay them off surely this will solve the problem ? after all we have billions to play with haven't we ?

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  • Get rid of the lot of them us nurses a decent wage instead.

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  • Oops it should say 'and pay' before us

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