Nurses will find it increasingly hard to assume leadership roles in the NHS if their opinion continues to be ignored at board level, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned.
The organisation says the growing importance of nurse-led services is not reflected in the upper echelons of primary care trusts (PCTs), which are not legally-bound to consider their views.
While all acute and foundation trusts must have a nurse with full voting rights as an executive board member, the same is not true of PCTs, with a recent RCN report finding that around 20% of such trusts have no nursing representative at the top level.
Rosemary Cook, Director of the Queen's Nursing Institute, said the situation had been exacerbated by the introduction of new care models and the splitting-up of PCTs into different arms.
The RCN added that such facts displayed a lack of understanding of the importance of effective nursing on the part of PCTs.