A pioneering scheme to give ward sisters and community nurse
team leaders more time is set to improve care and create up to 40
new frontline nursing jobs.
County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust is
investing £800,000 on recruitment and training, which will enable
ward sisters and community nurse team leaders to spend more time
managing, leading and supervising staff and patient care.
The move, announced today (Friday, May 11) ahead of
International Nurses Day (Saturday, May 12), has been backed by
national professional body the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) which
praised the Trust as leading the region.
Diane Murphy, Acting Director of Nursing at County Durham
and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, explained: "We have always
provided high quality care to our patients across County Durham and
Darlington, but there's always room for improvement.
"Over the last decade, nursing has changed dramatically.
We're seeing greater numbers of patients who require more complex
care. To meet the increased demand, our ward sisters and community
nurse team leaders have been spending up to 80% of their time
delivering that care and just 20% directing it. We need to turn
those figures around. "Investing in ward sisters and
community nurse team leaders will enable them to concentrate on
improving the high quality care we provide to our patients. They
will achieve this by having more time to manage their staff and
Mrs Murphy, who has 31 year's nursing experience, added:
"This will have a significant impact on improving the care we are
able to provide to our patients and we're the first hospital trust
in the region to take this approach. Delivering great care is why
we get out of bed in the morning and our new approach will help our
nurses and community nurse team leaders deliver even better quality
The Trust employs more than 80 ward sisters and community
nurse team leaders who oversee around 3,000 nurses. Each ward
sister is in charge of a team of around 30 full time staff, caring
for approximately 30 patients at any one time. To support their
changing roles, all ward sisters will receive additional
The plans have been welcomed by Ward Sister Allison Todd
who manages 30 nurses on a medical ward at University Hospital of
North Durham. She said: "There's so much to do. With the
new plans, I'll have more opportunity to coach my staff and
identify the steps we need to take to make care better for our
Greta Jones, a Ward Sister who manages a 24-strong team of
orthopaedic nurses at Darlington Memorial Hospital,
agrees. She said: "When I started, it was very much about
being a nurse but I also had management responsibilities. I had a
group of patients to care for on top of being a manager and
sometimes had to manage in my own time. "This will provide me with
more quality time to spend with staff, support them and work with
them. This will give them the confidence to become capable and
confident in their own right, improving patient care."
The Trust's plans have been backed by professional body
the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
Glenn Turp, Regional Director for RCN Northern Region,
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 throughout
their treatment. The ward sisters will have clear managerial and
supervisory responsibilities for both the clinical teams and the
patients they serve. This clear accountability will be welcomed by
both patients and the clinical teams, because it will deliver
better leadership, better care, and also means that when patients
or staff have an issue, there is a clear "go-to" person to get it
resolved. "County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust
are to be congratulated for setting the benchmark high and the RCN
hopes that other Trusts will now follow their lead."
'I would like to thank all the staff for my treatment and their
Patient, Cardiology Department, Bishop Auckland Hospital