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Empowering nurses to transform patient care

As Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) turn to action across England, Page & Page’s Communications Director Cori Hollenbach explores whether healthcare companies are considering the influence nurses can have on promoting shared-decision making in prescribing.

From April 2017, 44 individual Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) will be officially rolled-out, signalling a fundamental shift in how the NHS provides patient care. Across England, each STP will be taking a localised approach to achieving its objectives of strengthening prevention and primary care services, reducing the burden on acute hospitals and increasing savings and efficiencies. This requires a significant restructure of commissioning and care services.  

For many healthcare professionals, including nurses, day-to-day roles will inevitably evolve as they collaborate within newly-formed, multi-disciplinary teams and take part in decision making for their local patient populations. With many STPs prioritising the importance of shared-decision making, nurses can bring a wide range of soft skills to drive this forward such as relationship building and understanding the patient perspective.  

Nurses are best equipped to prepare patients for shared-decision making

The positive impact nurses have on patient communications is clear. Research shows patients are more satisfied with care from a nurse practitioner than from a doctor, with no difference in health outcomes. Specialist nurses are rated higher than any other health and social care professional in understanding patient needs, being transparent and honest and keeping an ‘open door’ policy to elicit real patient feedback. And at any given time, nurses working within multi-professional teams can be wearing up to six functional hats from assessment, co-ordination and communication, technical care to the more emotive side of providing support to families.

The increasing influence of nurses in commissioning and care services

Particularly at the senior level, more nurses are on the front lines of decision making for local prescribing protocols. Nurses who had traditionally not been involved in commissioning services now play key roles within CCGs. Since 2012, this statutory position has given commissioning nurse leaders a platform to bring a wealth of clinical knowledge and share their expert opinion with the wider commissioning team for key decisions, especially around quality assurance of services.  

Steps are now being taken to broaden this type of influential platform to all levels of nursing. Barts Health NHS Trust, the largest NHS trust in England, recently launched a ‘clinical senate’ of 80 people chaired by its chief nurse to ensure the profession’s perspective is heard loud and clear in the planning and delivering of services. The initiative was formed to bring the nurses’ perspective from ‘ward to board’ and includes regular debates on key care issues. It’s a mechanism to bring together perspectives from student nurses to consultants and nursing leads, it has the potential to boost the profession’s input into action-based solutions for the trust.  

How can the healthcare industry better support nurses?

As STPs take shape, nurses are a key bridge between patients and decision makers both in and outside of clinical practice.  

For many healthcare companies, training and support for nurses seem to stop at clinic. Many of our clients commission us to create dialogue tools to improve patient assessments, e-learning and live trainings to refine technical skills, features and benefits driven detail aids, etc. All well and good, but we can be doing more to empower and inform nurses in management roles, particularly during STP roll-out, to ensure care services and prescribing decisions remain patient-centric.  

The first step is getting a clear picture of the STP environment your core customer nurses are operating in and how it shapes their beliefs and behaviours. These insights will help spot new opportunities to meaningfully engage with nurses who have existing platforms within the NHS organisations they are affiliated with, local or national projects they lead or within commissioning bodies. With a sound communications strategy based on a shared-value proposition, authentic engagement can open doors to collaboration and co-creation around a genuine unmet educational need. Through appropriate and practical education in leadership, strategy, communication and management within their therapeutic speciality, we can better equip nurses to fulfil their leadership potential.  

In December 2016, Page & Page ( conducted research to better understand clinical nurse specialist personas in England. Please see corresponding PDF report for more information.


  Clinical Nurse Specialist Personas 2017
PDF File: 1.3 MB

20th March 2017


  Clinical Nurse Specialist Personas 2017
PDF File: 1.3 MB



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