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Guy Powell and Bertha Matunge
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Independent Thought leadership and Policy Advice

See some examples below of past and current policy influence and thought leadership projects.

Subject Expert Groups

Funder: Health Education England South East

Summary: Following the success of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Student Nurse Council, the FNF Policy Unit are leading on a project to establish six multi-professional Student Councils across the South East region of England. There will be one Council per Integrated Care System (ICS) and membership of the Councils include student nurses, midwives, allied health professionals and trainee nursing associates. 

The Student Councils will enable student representation to actively support, inform and influence local strategic discussions within their ICS/STP in relation to the education, learning and quality agendas and allow for the escalation of issues and concerns.  The proposal will provide opportunities for students to engage in the development of education and learning from a student perspective within their locality and enable them to have a voice within relevant projects and developments.

The project is intended to directly support "Our NHS People Promise" as outlined in the People Plan and links to a number of chapters within the plan including "Looking after our people", "Belonging in the NHS", "New ways of working and delivering care" and "Growing for the future".

The FNF Policy Unit will evaluate this project with the following objectives:

  • Explore the set-up of the Councils and what worked (to support other regions to follow suit should they wish).
  • Understand the perceived benefits and challenges of this work for the Student Council Members. 
  • Understand the perceived benefits and challenges for the ICSs.
  • Identify key themes that have arisen from an equalities, diversity and inclusion perspective.

Outcomes: An evaluation report on this project will be published in April 2023.

Read more on the Student Councils Programme here.

Funder: NHS England/Improvement

Summary: This project explores the research development requirements of Executive Lead Nurses needed to embed a culture of research and evidence-based practice. This involves undertaking a survey and focus group discussions with senior nursing leaders of provider organisations. The research will evidence the most current experiences relating to research and development requirements, and explore the underpinning assumptions that are sustaining the challenges and barriers in moving this agenda forward in support of the CNO England Strategic Plan for Research.

Outcomes: The research will enable FNF to develop a thought leadership report to inform the work of the Executive Nurse Research Steering Group and inform the implementation of the CNO England Strategic Plan for Research.

Funders: Unfunded

Collaborators: Unison, Nursing Times

Summary: This campaign intends to inform employers of what works most effectively during preceptorship and share evidence with policymakers and regulators to enable them to utilise their collective influence to:

  1. Require time to be protected for preceptorship and supervision, for both preceptors and preceptees.
  2. Set a standard for consistent access to preceptorship programmes.
  3. Emphasise the need for preceptorship programmes to incorporate reflective practice and focus on professional support and development during the transition to qualified practice.

Outcomes: The campaign has commenced with a survey which is being managed by Nursing Times. The results will provide a current evidence base that all collaborators will commit to sharing with employers, regulators and policymakers.

Funders: NHS England

Collaborators: Kings Fund, NHS Confederation, Prof. Lisette Schoonhoven (University Medical Centre Utrecht)

Summary: NHS England  (NHSE) convened the Acute Deterioration Board and a “Worry and Concern” Task and Finish Group the latter a subgroup of the former. The issue of clinician, patient and family worry and concern was identified as a key priority for the Acute Deterioration Board, to understand and therefore improve the recognition and response to acute deterioration in patients in a range of settings, including learning disability, mental health, care homes and acute care settings. It aims to understand the barriers and enablers to escalate concerns that can affect outcomes for the patient.

FNF undertook a study to explore the influence of leadership, culture, and hierarchy on raising concerns relating to patient deterioration.

Outcomes: The study was published in July 2023.

The findings highlight elements of the healthcare environment that influence the quality of the care delivered to the patient. Leadership that role models multi-disciplinary team working, values the expertise of all stakeholders, and champions person-centred practice can create a psychologically safe working culture. This culture creates an environment in which clinical staff, patients, carers, and family members feel confident and less hesitant in raising worries and concerns.

In healthcare environments where these characteristics are not present, staff training and development alongside access to, and the availability of feedback avenues can provide the right conditions for all to escalate concerns and improve patient safety.

Read our news story for a summary and recommendations.

Read the full report here.

Next steps

NHSE is now funding seven pilot sites – one in each region – to participate in a national Worry and Concern Improvement Collaborative. The collaborative aims to catalyse two changes:

  1. The systematic incorporation of patient worry and concern into early warning and diagnostic tools; and
  2. Contribution to a shift in culture and practice that empowers patients/families/carers to speak up about deterioration and clinicians to listen to and communicate more effectively about these matters.

FNF presented our research findings to these pilot sites to inform their implementation processes and we continue to be involved with the programme.

We will also be continuing to strengthen and grow our leadership development work, to support nurses and midwives to have the confidence and skills to speak out and share concerns.

Funder: Health Education England

Summary: This project involved undertaking focus groups with Learning Disability Nurses recruited from the FNF alumni community. The nurses worked across a variety of sectors and were supported to explore the impact of Covid 19 on their practice. The research highlights how Learning Disability Nurses turned to collaboration and creativity in a monumental effort to maintain services for people with a learning disability. The nurses were driven by a desire to maintain a sense of normality and stability for those in their care and pulled together to keep people with learning disabilities connected and safe during an intense period of social isolation.

Outcomes: An article reporting on the project has been published in “Learning Disability Practice” and can be accessed here. It is also available in an Easy Read format. The results were presented to the HEE/NHS E/I “All England Plan for Learning Disability Nursing” steering group and informed the operational strategy for this workforce agenda.

Funder: NHS England/Improvement

Summary: The National SDM Council convened in May 2020. They are the first of their kind internationally and have had a focus on ensuring point of care nurses and midwives have influence on the direction of policy and subsequent change. This is particularly significant as the council was established during wave 1 of the Covid 19 pandemic and have continued to function despite the significant clinical demands. This has enabled the CNO and National policy team to have continuous and rapid insight into the experience of point of care staff and translate this into policy where appropriate. The council comprises 17 point of care staff who work within one of the 14 Pathway to Excellence pilot cites. They are representing their own views and perspectives and not acting as a representative for their organisation. As the National SDM Council reached the end of its inaugural year there is an imperative to evaluate both the experience and impact of its members. The FNF Policy Unit has undertaken this evaluation with the following objectives:

  • Explore the personal impact of membership on the individuals’ perception of their leadership capability and capacity.
  • Discuss the perceived personal impact of membership on the individual's ability to influence national policy which leads to positive change.
  • Identify how this experience has translated into opportunities and approaches to influencing within their own organisation.
  • Reflect upon the factors which have enhanced or inhibited this impact on the individual and their local and national influence.
  • Gather examples of the member's perceived successes
  • Describe their recommendations for the future implementation of National SDM Councils taking into consideration challenges they have encountered which offer opportunities to amend the National SDM Council model in the future

Outcomes: A report on this project will be published in January 2022.