A first for OH nursing

An occupational health nurse has become the first nurse consultant in OH to
be appointed in the country

Tammie Daly, an OH nurse with Nottingham Occupational Health, took up the
post of nurse consultant in occupational health at the start of June – the
first such appointment in the country.

Nurse consultants were launched by the Government three years ago as a means
of keeping experienced nurses in clinical positions, but until now have gone to
nurses in "front line" and acute care positions.

Daly has worked for the service, part of the Queen’s Medical Centre in the
city, for the past 10 years.

She will maintain her clinical work – indeed, she is required to as part of
the job (see box) – but will also be expected to take a central role in
developing best practice at the trust.

This will comprise a leadership role in training and mentoring other nurses,
plus an element of research. Among her qualifications, Daly has a Masters
degree in education.

"For the first time it is saying clinical skills are of as much value
as management skills," she told Occupational Health.

"The main thing about nurse consultants is that nurses are being given
new career opportunities while keeping them within their field of
practice."

Daly was at pains to stress it wasn’t so much her personally taking up the
position that was important, as the trust applying for it in the first place.

"What it is trying to do is say that if you want to have a high-quality
NHS service, then you have to be able to look after the health of your
workforce. We have got to look at innovative ways of promoting health at
work," she said.

To obtain a nurse consultant, a local organisation has to make a case for
the post. The request then goes up through the regional office to the
Department of Health and, if agreed, the post is advertised.

Many trusts are waiting to apply for OH nurse consultant positions and, now
one has been appointed, others will follow, forecast Daly.

She now hopes to address violence against NHS staff and, particularly, how
occupational health can be involved in the rehabilitation of workers following
an attack.

The role of the nurse consultant

– Nurse consultant posts, first announced in 1999, are designed
to offer nurses an alternative career track that does not mean they are forced
to go into management

– Those filling such posts, which command a salary of £45,000,
are expected to be experienced practitioners with advanced education
qualifications

– They are expected to combine expert practice with
professional leadership, consultancy, education, service development, research
and evaluation

– Posts must include a firm commitment to keep 50 per cent of
the time available to work directly with patients

– The NHS Plan set a target to creating 1,000 nurse consultants
by 2004. By last September,124 new posts had been created, bringing the total
so far to more than 570

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