Service users should have role in nurse recruitment, review argues

Mental health nurses should adopt a recovery approach to care, providing more psychological therapies and helping tackle patients’ social exclusion, according to a major government review.

The Chief Nursing Officer’s Review of Mental Health Nursing in England says service users and carers should be routinely involved in the recruitment, education and assessment of all mental health nurses and the needs of carers should be identified during care planning.

The review, launched last week following a consultation last year, says nurses should spend more time in clinical contact with service users to improve in-patient care.

In seeking to tackle the flight of nurses to new community mental health services, the review recommends in-patient nursing be recognised as a specialty in its own right with a clear career pathway.

Chief nursing officer Christine Beasley said the review would not have significant resource implications because it focused on changing the way existing staff worked.

But Unison’s representative on the review’s steering committee Mick McKeown said training in skills such as psychological therapy would need resources.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Andrew McCulloch said parts of the review were encouraging but “tinkering” with in-patient care would not work.

He said a fundamental rethink of the system was needed involving a more short-term, intensive, therapeutic approach to in-patient care.

Meanwhile, a new five-year strategy for mental health nursing in Scotland was published last week.

The strategy outlines plans for developing mental health nurses’ therapeutic skills, increasing their role in preventive care and improving training at all levels.

It follows a review of mental health nursing in Scotland that found problems with resources, prequalifying training and development of skills in the workplace.

Geoff Earl, an Edinburgh community psychiatric nurse and Royal College of Nursing Scotland board member, praised the emphasis on freeing up nurses to provide more support to patients but said their skills would need to be improved.

Shona Neil, chief executive of the Scottish Association for Mental Health, said the culture and skills of nurses in acute settings would have to change if the strategy were to work.

From Values to Action: The Chief Nursing Officer’s Review of Mental Health Nursing from
● Scottish strategy from


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