RCN: lack of chief nurse does not send out right message

NOT having a chief nurse does not send the right message about how Health & Social Care values nurses, the Royal College of Nursing has said.

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In April this year, Juliet Beale resigned from her role as chief nurse due to ill health, leaving the Bailiwick without one of its senior clinical leaders during the coronavirus outbreak.

Since then, the RCN has spoken out about the need to fill the role, but a review of the position had still not been completed in September.

The role was being covered by other senior staff.

Earlier this week, HSC said the chief nurse role is still being actively reviewed to establish what is required of it.

This is being done in conjunction with the RCN to ensure that any appointments are made to a role that delivers what HSC – as a fully-integrated health and social care provider – requires.

‘We are keen to ensure we put in place a structure that benefits the wider health and care team incorporating nurses, allied health professionals, social care practitioners and healthcare scientific staff,’ a spokesperson said.

Since the post has been vacant, HSC has had a defined single point of contact in the director of hospital and adult community care services for the RCN and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Although, the post holder has not been acting as a chief nurse.

‘In addition, the heads of service for acute nursing care, adult community, maternity/paediatrics and mental health and adult disability (who are all registrants) agreed to provide day-to-day professional support in their sectors and have been doing so,’ the spokesperson said.

‘The four heads of service report to the director of hospital and adult community services so this structure supports any escalation to the RCN or NMC as appropriate.’

The governance function of the former chief nurse’s role is currently being covered by the medical director, Dr Peter Rabey, on an interim basis.

RCN South East regional director Patricia Marquis said: ‘The RCN considers the role of chief nurse to be an integral part of the health and social care leadership team on Guernsey.

‘To not have such an important role doesn’t send the right message about how HSC values nurses and their role within the health and social care sector.’

She said the role was vital in ensuring HSC has nursing input both strategically and operationally to ensure the services provided to the people of Guernsey are of the highest quality.

‘We are working with HSC to determine the scope of the role so the right person with the right skills can be found to lead nursing on Guernsey and help to shape the future successes of the profession and health and social care,’ she said.

‘It remains disappointing to us that there has been such a delay and we hope that this piece of work can be finished soon so that recruitment to the role can take place.’

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