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Nursing leadership is needed now more than ever

Carolyn Scott

The Winter print edition of Nursing in Practice is now out – editor Carolyn Scott discusses some of the points raised, including the issues faced by nurses as they climb the leadership ladder, and the launch of a new series ‘Lessons in leadership’

With this winter marked by unprecedented strikes by the profession, and ongoing capacity crises in the healthcare system, nursing needs strong leadership at all levels – from within general practices all the way to the top of NHS structures

Serious challenges lie ahead for everyone this winter, and for nursing they come on top of the Carr report, with its stark messages for the leadership of the RCN.

But what’s happening on the ground? We know there are too few primary care and community nurses in senior decision-making roles. There are also disproportionately too few women in senior leadership roles across the health service. 

Sadly, old-fashioned hierarchies, stereotyping of female roles and career paths, and a lack of leadership training and mentorship opportunities are all too common. This needs to change. 

We aim to kickstart that change with our feature, ‘Climbing the leadership ladder’. It examines why female nurses can struggle to reach the top, speaking to women from a range of nursing backgrounds about their concerns and the fight to get their voices heard. 

What is clear from their responses is that there is no shortage of leadership potential in the profession, but should many more women occupy top decision-making roles in the NHS?

We know that leadership is a topic that is important to the readers of Nursing in Practice and with that in mind, this issue sees the launch of our ‘Lessons in leadership’ series to hear from inspirational nurses at the forefront of general practice and community nursing. 

We’ve opened the discussion by speaking to nurses across primary care about their experiences as leaders, how they see others progressing in their careers around them and how high-level input from nurses is vital if we are to tackle the crises threatening healthcare provision in the UK.

We spoke to a director of nursing in an ICB, about how nurses can approach people like her in key positions, who can show them where the opportunities lie and help get their voices heard. Her take-home message? Don’t wait to be asked. That sounds like good advice.  

Of course, nurses at all levels take tough decisions every day in practice, as our feature on compassionate leadership makes clear. Think about the actions you take daily as you advocate for patients and support colleagues: you are already a leader, and perhaps you have even more to offer the profession. 

Nursing in Practice will continue to seek out nurses who can inspire colleagues and whose achievements could make all the difference in uncertain times.

Contribute to the Lessons in leadership series 

 We plan to feature more examples of leadership in our new series. Do you have experience and expertise to share? Would you like to nominate someone to be interviewed who has led with vigour and enthusiasm? If so, please get in touch by emailing [email protected]

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Carolyn Scott is editor of Nursing in Practice. Follow her on Twitter