In 2009, The King's Fund and the Burdett Trust for Nursing set out to 'bring the ward to the board', emphasising the role of the nurse executive in ensuring that boards are as fully engaged with the clinical quality agenda as they are with financial performance.
As leaders of the largest part of the NHS workforce, nurse executives have considerable power to influence the patient experience and the ability to provide an understanding of the standard of clinical care delivered by a trust.
Building on the findings of From Ward to Board, the publication produced after the first phase of work in 2009, Putting quality first in the boardroom is based on observations of nurse executives and their boards at six NHS trusts.
The report starts by examining what is meant by the term 'clinical quality' and why it has the potential to be marginalised in the boardroom. It goes on to consider the dynamics of the boardroom and the role of the nurse executive.
The main observations of the report relate to board members' behaviour and attitudes to the question of discussing and improving clinical quality. To focus effectively on the business of caring, board members need to ensure that they have the time and training to develop their understanding of the issues around quality assurance and improvement.
Nurse executives also need to move from their traditional role of 'doing' to one of enabling others. Successful nurse executives are skilled facilitators who know when to intervene; they have a key role in engaging frontline clinicians in the boardroom task of measuring and assuring the quality of care.
In drawing together the findings, the authors suggest ten action points for boards to ensure that they engage more effectively with the quality agenda.
See more from this project: From Ward to Board