Aims This study established key attributes and perceived strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) of nurse consultants specializing in safeguarding children.
Background The nurse consultant role in England spans four domains – clinical, leadership, education and research – and was intended to enable senior nurses to remain in clinical practice.
Method Data identifying the time spent by the nurse consultants in the four domains was collated and a thematic content analysis of the SWOT of the role was ascertained from semi-structured interviews with nurse consultants (n = 4) and stakeholders (n = 6).
Results Strengths and opportunities in clinical (consultancy), leadership and educational functions were identified but some weaknesses and threats in terms of nurse consultant’s contributions to research were also identified. The role was neither wholly strategic nor clinical. Role ambiguity meant that they were not always valued by managers, making the role potentially expendable.
Conclusions Nurse consultants are pivotal within health-care organizations because they span clinical practice and leadership enabling them to support managers in strategic planning, commissioning and implementation of policy.
Implications for nursing management Nurse consultants can support strategic practice development and influence quality and effectiveness service-wide. To succeed they must be understood, supported and nurtured by managers.