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Professor Jane Ball to lead new RCN ‘thinktank’

Professor Jane Ball to lead new RCN ‘thinktank’
Professor Jane Ball (Image credit: Royal College of Nursing)

A leading professor of nursing has been appointed as the first director of the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN’s) new Institute of Nursing Excellence.

Professor Jane Ball will lead the new institute which aims to ‘bring together’ different parts and functions of the RCN as a centre of excellence for education, learning, research and policy.

It contains five academies focused on supporting: nursing practice, nursing workforce, international nursing, nursing leadership and activism.

Professor Ball currently works as a professor of nursing workforce and policy at the University of Southampton, researching how issues such as nursing staffing levels and shift patterns affect quality of care, patient outcomes and nursing staff satisfaction.

She is also an RCN Fellow, former RCN policy adviser, and a strong advocate for safety-critical nurse to patient ratios.

Speaking about her new role, which starts in July, Professor Ball said: ‘The RCN has recognised the real challenges nursing faces and wants to respond with what we can learn from the evidence, applying that to progress the profession through the work of the Institute and its five academies.

‘I’ve spent a lot of time understanding what happens when staffing isn’t right and seeing the downsides on individual nursing staff of not being able to deliver care well.’

She added: ‘The work of the institute can give hope to nursing staff by enabling them to see a way to marshal evidence to help them and help the profession.

‘My role leading the institute will be to bring together its five academies to help the RCN ensure there’s evidence and critical thinking underpinning each of its areas of activity.’

When the college announced the initiative in 2022, it said the institute would collaborate with universities to progress nursing research, offer the RCN’s own professorships and fund PhD programmes for nurses.

RCN chief nursing officer and deputy chief executive Professor Nicola Ranger said: ‘I’m delighted to welcome Jane to the RCN in this crucial role, which will see us navigate and progress the nursing profession in new ways.

‘Through the institute, we’ll support members to be strong advocates for patients and colleagues, and brave leaders in innovation and research both nationally and internationally. The institute is the thinktank through which we’ll deliver our aspirational vision for nursing.’

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