The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Monday, 12 January 2009

Charge nurses and midwives take leading role in health care

Ayrshire and Arran’s charge nurses were once known as ‘ward sisters’ – but in recent years more than their name has changed, with their role becoming increasingly complex.

The central role of charge nurses in delivering a world-class health service was the theme at a recent Nursing and Midwifery Leadership conference for NHS Ayrshire & Arran.

[Pictured: Mrs Fiona McQueen, Executive Nurse Director (centre) with from left, Anne Fairlie, Head of Practice Development, Andrew Moore, Assistant Director of Nursing (Patient Focus Public Involvement), Angela O’Neill, Associate Nurse Director – Integrated care and emergency services, and Mary McGinn, Associate Nurse Director – Integrated care and partner services.]

The conference marked the culmination of an extensive review of the roles and responsibilities of charge nurses in the modern health service. Patients, members of the public and NHS staff have all had the opportunity to become involved in the review, which is part of a process that will see charge nurses take their place in the NHS as professional, modern clinical leaders.

The review led to the publication of ‘Leading Better Care’ which was launched recently by Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing and Paul Martin, Chief Nursing Officer. ‘Leading Better Care’ is a national drive to focus the role of the Charge Nurse on providing safe, effective care that improves patients’ experience of services.

Speakers at the conference included Ayrshire and Arran’s Associate Nurse Directors, who shared their vision for the future.

Mary McGinn, Associate Nurse Director – Integrated care and partner services, explains: “Leading Better Care emphasises the need to develop strong and inspirational clinical leadership for the future.”

The review has involved charge nurses who are already working in inpatient settings, along with patients, members of the public and NHS staff. They were asked for their views on the charge nurse role and its potential for development. The review also looked at the activities carried out by charge nurses today; as well as reviews of literature and research evidence.

From all this information, working groups identified four areas for responsibility:
* to ensure safe and effective clinical practice
* to enhance patient experience
* to manage and develop the performance of the team
* and to contribute to the delivery of the organisation’s objectives.

Charge nurses will also be able to use a set of Clinical Quality Indicators to help them improve the quality of care in their areas of responsibility. Indicators give nurses the tools they need to provide evidence on the quality of clinical care.

Executive Nurse Director Fiona McQueen adds: “The role of the charge nurse is central to delivering safe and effective care on a daily basis; this innovative approach will enable them to monitor standards of care and patient satisfaction more effectively. This is part of the drive to improve the patient’s experience of care in NHS Ayrshire & Arran.”

Charge Nurse Janice Donnelly welcomed the refocused role as a positive challenge: “I look forward to this exciting development as it will ensure that the quality of patient care for the future will be enhanced through effective nurse leadership.”

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