Leadership across boundaries: a qualitative study of the nurse consultant role in English primary care



    1. Research Fellow, Public Health and Primary Care Unit, St Bartholomew School of Nursing and Midwifery, City University Institute of Health Sciences, London, UK
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Stephen Abbott
Research Fellow
Public Health and Primary Care Unit
St Bartholomew School of Nursing and Midwifery
City University Institute of Health Sciences 20, Bartholomew Close
London EC1A 7QN, UK E-mail: s.j.abbott@city.ac.uk


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.