A new study carried out by researcher Helen Allan, Professor of Nursing at Middlesex, and colleagues at the University of Surrey, University of Salford and UCL Institute of Education sheds light on the practice of delegation in NHS nursing roles.
The research – which followed newly qualified nurses in four hospital trusts across England over a three year period – found increased educational and organisational support is needed to develop nurses’ delegation skills.
The team identified five styles of delegator among the nurses they followed. These ranged from the ‘do-it-all’ nurse who felt unable to delegate anything, to the ‘inspector’ who delegates but constantly checks the work of others for fear of being held accountable for mistakes.
Professor Allan’s work highlights an immediate concern as the most recent Nursing and Midwifery Council Code of Conduct states registered nurses should be accountable for their decisions to delegate tasks.
“Our research focuses on a little understood area of nursing – the delegation of key nursing tasks to untrained and unregistered care staff,” she says.
“Delegation falls into the category of essential nursing task which has for many years gone unacknowledged and unvalued.
“It is important because patients’ safety rests on effective delegation between nurses and care assistants. In fact, delegation is important across the whole health care team.”
The research findings will feed directly into Middlesex’s undergraduate nursing and midwifery courses to ensure students graduate with the necessary skills to delegate effectively.
“It’s important to act according to your Code of Conduct, which for the first time specifically stipulates that effective delegation is a key role for registered nurses,” explains Helen.
“Always feel confident that you know how to do what’s expected of you – and that anybody you ask to do something is competent too.”
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