Posted on Thursday 25th November 2010
Nursing is at the forefront of ensuring patients receive the best and safest care hospitals can provide. To deliver this, ward areas should have strong and visible nursing leadership with the right skills and staffing levels.
North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is in the process of reviewing its nursing structure to ensure that this is in place so that crucially, north Cumbria’s two hospitals can meet the needs of patients in the future and continue to deliver high quality and safe care.
This work started in September and we have been carrying out weekly meetings through planned drop-in sessions to discuss this review with our nursing teams.
One of the main considerations in this review is to “put power back on the wards” by enhancing the role of the Ward Sister and to ensure that more nurses are delivering patient care right at the frontline.
It is important to stress that although this organisational change is a challenging time for our nursing teams, no nursing staff have been placed at risk of redundancy.
The Trust has been closely monitoring recruitment whilst this review has been taking place and has been using its nurse bank and extra hours to support these vacancies. The Trust is now advertising nursing posts internally.
The Trust is working in close partnership with the Royal College of Nursing which is keen to ensure that it can influence the direction of this ongoing nursing review by healthy discussions and good communication.
Estephanie Dunn, the Operational Manager for the Royal College of Nursing Northern Region, said: “Let’s be clear: this is an extremely important and challenging time for the NHS. In the context of the current economic pressures it is absolutely vital that all Trusts undertake a thorough review of all aspects of their business that impact on the quality of patient care, to ensure that they continue to deliver high quality services. To do this, an organisation must be fit for purpose, from top to bottom. At this critical time it would be wrong to disengage in the review process, and that is why we are not seeking to ballot our members for a vote of no-confidence in the trust management.
“The RCN remains committed to representing the best interests of both patients and staff.
“We can only do this by engaging with the management team, and being the “critical friend” of the NHS. But you can not influence from outside the room, and it would be irresponsible for us to walk away at this stage. But equally, we will not shirk from making criticisms, where criticisms are due.
“Our bottom line is to protect high quality patient care, which can only be delivered by ensuring that you have the right levels of nursing staff with the right skills mix. Our members deserve to have their voice heard on this front, and that is why we will continue to engage the trust management at the highest level, to ensure that the right decisions are taken.”
Chris Platton, the Acting Director of Nursing who is overseeing the review, said: “We welcome the Royal College of Nursing support, involvement and engagement in our discussions during this review. It is very important that we all come to the table and work together to progress this review.
“It is a challenging time for our nursing teams and we have been holding weekly drop-in sessions to communicate the review and liaising with all the unions. We have bench-marked our proposals against other hospitals in the region and will be sharing this with the teams from this Monday.
“The main thrust of this review is to ensure that we have the right people in the right place to meet the needs of our patients in the future and that this is sustainable in the long-term given the financial challenges that are facing the NHS as a whole.
“We have listened to our staff and the public who want to see our wards working effectively, with strong ward leadership and more nurses doing what they do best – caring for patients on the frontline.”