Thursday, 20 March 2014

Week 6: Nurse Leadership in Commissioning

At 8.00pm on Tuesday 25 March @WeCommissioners, along with @WeNurses and @6CsLive are hosting a Twitter chat on the opportunities and challenges for nurse leaders in commissioning. The chat will explore this in more depth, but as some pre-reading, this blog will explore the different roles of nurse leaders in commissioning.

Nurse leaders come in all shapes and sizes and this is no different for nurses working in commissioning. Those nurses working in commissioning roles come from a diverse range of backgrounds and do a wide variety of roles. This includes engaging with patients, public, professionals and colleagues to design new services, improving existing ones, to monitor the quality and to ensure good governance of services.

Whatever the background and role of nurse leaders working in commissioning there is one thing that they all have in common; a drive to improve things for people. At the start of most commissioning nurse leaders’ careers they were student nurses and I doubt many, if any, at that stage intended on working in commissioning roles. There are many and varied routes into working in commissioning for nurses and they have had key leadership roles right from the start of the NHS and specifically in commissioning following its introduction in 1991. Since then organisations responsible for commissioning have involved nurses in key leadership roles. Today there are a huge range of roles for nurse leaders in health and wellbeing services commissioning, mainly in Clinical Commissioning Groups, NHS England and Local Authorities. These include, but aren’t exclusive to: Nurse Board Member, Director of Nursing/Quality; Quality Lead; Patient Experience Lead; Patient Safety Lead; Infection Control; Safeguarding Lead (Adults & Children); and many other roles not exclusive to nurses, but requiring clinical experience & knowledge.

The underpinning leadership skills required by nurses working in commissioning are not that different to those working in leadership outside of nursing and nurses working in other parts of the health service. Forbes describes the 10 key attributes of great leaders and these apply equally well to nurses working in commissioning as to other professionals and disciplines:

Effective Delegation
Sense of Humour
Positive Attitude
Ability to Inspire

Do these ten qualities sound familiar? They is significant overlap with the 6Cs (Care, Compassion, Communication, Competence, Commitment and Courage), which apply equally well to nurse leaders in commissioning as in any other field of nursing. Finally, being a nurse leader in commissioning doesn’t equate to seniority. The attributes described in Forbes in the list above and through the 6Cs are applicable to nurses working at every level in commissioning. It is important that we recognise the value of this, provide more opportunities for nurses to experience commissioning roles from pre-registration training through professional practice and at any stage in a nurse’s career.

Nurse leaders working in commissioning roles have great opportunities to change things for the better for patients, public and colleagues within the NHS. There are also significant challenges in these roles and they involve some very difficult decisions, daily. Through the chat we will explore what some of these opportunities and challenges are and how they can best be approached.

Further reading & resources:
Commissioning Nurse Leaders Network
Webinars on commissioning topics for nurses
NHS Careers; Careers in management, including nurse leadership roles in commissioning
Healthcare Professionals Commissioning Network
For more detailed background history of the NHS, including commissioning

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