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Deborah Sturdy appointed as permanent social care chief nurse



Chief nurse for adult social care Deborah Sturdy has outlined ambitions to increase the number of registered nurses working in the sector, as she announced her permanent appointment to the role.

Ms Sturdy, who initially took up the new role on an interim basis in January 2021, revealed at the QNI Annual Conference last week that she took up the role permanently on 1 September.

Speaking to community nursing delegates on Thursday evening, she pinpointed workforce shortages as one of the ‘enormous challenges’ facing the sector – but argued ‘there is an opportunity’ to tackle these issues following recently announced reforms funded by a National Insurance hike.

‘[The reforms include] an injection of money into the sector and, most importantly, £500m for workforce. I’m really delighted to come in at a time where there is this opportunity,’ she said.

Ms Sturdy also cited a Skills for Care report last week showing a 5% fall in the number of registered nurses working in adult social care in England last year, adding: ‘We have to turn that around. We have to seize this as an opportunity.’

As part of work to increase the profile of social care nurses, she has commissioned research looking at the role of the nurse in social care and talked with the Council of Deans last week on how to increase the number of undergraduate placements, she said.

Ms Sturdy also praised social care nurses for ‘really coming into the fore’ in the ‘last 19 months’, since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

She explained: ‘Social care nursing is not for the faint-heart. It is an immensely skilled and complex area of practice…These nurses are actually practicing advanced clinical decision making, autonomy, care coordination and leadership in very challenging circumstances.’

This comes as first-time guidance was released for social care employers on how to make the most of their student nurse placements. And social care leaders told Nursing in Practice this month that more placements could boost recruitment to the sector.  

The chief adult social care nurse role was first announced in September 2020 as part of the Government’s Covid-19 plan for social care, with recruitment beginning in October.