Senior nurses to take on staff and budget control

HR professionals have welcomed an NHS move giving senior nurses more control
over staffing levels and budgets worth up to £800,000 a year.

Health Secretary Alan Milburn announced that he was giving more autonomy to
senior ward sisters who will now have a greater role in managing staff.

They will be able to plan rosters and shift patterns and to assess the need
for agency nurses, as well as deciding on the mix of grades and skills needed
on each ward.

Association of Healthcare Human Resource Management president Tracy Myhill
said staff involvement was an important part of driving the service forward,
but warned that HR must ensure increased responsibility is backed up by

"It’s good that staff are getting the chance to take responsibility as
they’re best placed to decide how to deliver service. We must strike a balance
and ensure that we don’t overburden them.

"HR has to ensure that we are giving support and adequate training for
these new roles.

"Staff involvement is becoming the big issue on the NHS agenda,"
she said.

Unison’s head of nursing Karen Jennings also broadly backed the move, but
warned that nurses should not find themselves torn between clinical and
administrative roles because of the increased workload.

"This will give ward sisters extra resources at local level where they
are needed.

"However, it is an additional responsibility and we are concerned that
more and more will be expected from a smaller pool of nurses," she said.

Milburn also announced plans to develop more nurses as leaders after figures
showed that only half of nursing directors were being interviewed for chief
executive posts.

By Ross Wigham

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