Headlines: November 16th, 2001

Ward sisters and charge nurses are to get control of ward staffing budgets worth as much as 800,000 pounds a year.The move aims to give more power to senior nurses to manage the staff on their wards, plan rosters, shift patterns and assess the need for agency or bank nurses.

Ward sisters will decide on the mix of grades, mix of skills and mix of jobs on each ward so that nurses can maximise the amount of time spent at the patient’s bedside.

Health secretary Alan Milburn says power is being handed down to ward level as ward sisters and charge nurses are best placed to know the day to day needs of patients and the hour by hour demands on staff.

The decentralising measure is part of an attempt to develop a new enterprise culture in the NHS and other parts of the public sector. This is thought to require discretion over how budgets are spent, greater freedoms and more rewards for organisations which succeed.

Mr Milburn has also announced plans to develop more nurses as leaders after a survey revealed that only half of the nursing directors who apply for trust chief executive posts get interviews.