• advanced roles;
  • primary care

Aim  To explore the emerging role of nurse consultant in an English primary care setting.

Background  Nurse consultants have been introduced in England since 1999 as senior, non-managerial nurse leaders. They have generally found it that it takes time to negotiate manageable work-loads.

Design  Four qualitative case studies

Methods  Semi-structured interviews with stakeholders within the organization. Data were analysed thematically.

Findings  All four nurse consultants might potentially work with a very large number of disciplines, departments and other organizations. As a result, it took time to identify priorities and to make relationships. Thus, although nurse consultants are well-placed to work across boundaries, two had made relatively little progress in doing so.

Conclusion  Nurse consultants working in primary and community health care settings are well-placed to be boundary-spanners, delivering change across organizations. Negotiating priorities and relationships are time-consuming tasks, and nurse consultants may have to work with a restricted number of partners initially.