An nurse advocacy role has encouraged nurses to “rise to the challenge” and drive improvement in their trusts, a Nursing Times conference has heard.
Nurse leaders have hailed the professional nurse advocate (PNA) programme as “a well needed support infrastructure” which is helping the profession.
The PNA programme is a Masters level professional clinical leadership programme, delivered by universities, which provides nurses with skills to facilitate restorative supervision to their colleagues and teams.
The programme was launched in March 2021 by the chief nursing officer for England Dame Ruth May to support the recovery of the nursing workforce during the coronavirus pandemic.
At the virtual Nursing Times Workforce Summit today, Sam Lungu, assistant director of nursing in the South East region who is leading on a PNA programme, told the audience that PNAs are “here to stay”.
“At present, the programme has been a well needed support infrastructure for nurses,” she said.
“It’s in the NHS contract, and it’s not going anywhere.
“Its priorities are really to look up to the nursing workforce, amplify the nursing voice and celebrate their contribution.”
Ms Lungu said that since the launch of the scheme almost 8,000 registered nurses have been trained as PNAs across all regions of England.
Because of the success, PNA booster sessions have also been provided for nurses who have undertaken the programme, she added.
Ms Lungu said: “What has been useful in implementing the programme has been to see that sense of renewed purpose for the nursing workforce, and how they have really been instrumental when it comes to leading change.”
She added that it had been “a pleasure and joy” to facilitate the PNA programme across her region.
“What we have seen in the South East is offering this programme to all the nurses has been the one thing which has allowed nurses to rise to the challenge and drive improvement and experience not only for the patients they look after, but for their colleagues,” she said.
“I think that has to be a really structured approach”
PNAs have been able to provide “psychological safety and improve accountability”, Ms Lungu said.
“This programme has complimented and amplified the need to have a healthy workforce.”
Also speaking at the session today, titled The value and benefits of having professional nurse advocates in clinical practice, was Sue McLaughlin, clinical director and nurse consultant at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
At Berkshire it is not only band five and six nurses who have completed the training, directors, nurse consultants and matrons have also been encouraged to get the qualification.
When considering the additional demands which may be placed on nurses in this role, Ms McLaughlin, who is also a PNA herself, noted the importance of giving PNAs enough time to do their job effectively.
She said her trust had looked at the workload of PNAs and allocated some protected time for nurses to carry out their role properly.
She said: “I think that has to be a really structured approach, otherwise, people are not able in their busy workload to fit it in.”
Ms McLaughlin’s trust also has a “dedicated” support group which exists for PNAs to come together and discuss the impact of providing restorative supervision.
She added that herself and her trust were “very happy to work with people in surrounding trusts” to advise on how better to support their PNAs going forwards.
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