• new roles;
  • non medical consultants;
  • sustainability;
  • workforce

mullen c., gavin-daley a., kilgannon h. & swift j. (2011) Journal of Nursing Management19, 820–831 Nurse Consultants 10 years on: an insight to the role for Nurse Managers

Aims  To evaluate the Non-Medical Consultant role in the North West of England. The objective was to identify the current number of Non-Medical Consultants, what they do and the impact of the role in practice.

Background  The Non-Medical Consultant role for nursing and midwifery was introduced in the UK in 2000 to provide better outcomes for patients by improving service and quality; strengthening clinical leadership; and providing a new career opportunity to help retain experienced and expert professionals in practice.

Design  A combined qualitative and quantitative design was adopted. This included desktop review of previous studies, a survey questionnaire to current consultants, focus group meetings with Non-Medical Consultants, sponsors and champions.

Results  The role is effective, flexible, responsive and outward facing both internal to the organization and externally on a local, regional and national basis. A key challenge for the Non-Medical Consultants was organizational understanding of the role. The small size of the Non-Medical Consultant workforce can limit individual organizations experience of establishing and supporting the role.

Conclusion  Effective Non-Medical Consultants lead, drive and support quality improvement, increased productivity and service effectiveness. Other impacts include sharing and promoting best practice with colleagues, income generation and financial savings through service redesign and/or staff skill mix changes.

Implications for Nursing Management  Managerial issues identified may assist Nurse Managers seeking to introduce new consultant roles and/or support, and retain existing consultants to reach their full potential.