Introducing Newcastle’s pioneering Professional Nurse Advocates

Newcastle Hospitals’ first cohort of Professional Nurse Advocates was officially announced today during a special ceremony and presentation of accreditation certificates, special badges and lanyards.

The Professional Nurse Advocate (PNA) programme, launched in March 2021 by the Chief Nursing Officer Ruth May, aims to support NHS across England through restorative supervision delivered by specially trained nurse advocates.

Newcastle recognised the value that the PNA role could play in terms of staff wellbeing, retention and supporting our international colleagues following the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and identified 18 nurses, across a range of specialties, to participate in the programme.

The introduction of the PNA role also coincided with a trust-wide review of its Clinical Supervision process, and the addition of Restorative Supervision immediately resonated as a natural fit.

Responding to the challenges our staff face

“It is essential that we listen and understand the challenges that staff are facing on a daily basis,” explains Anna Telfer, Nursing and Midwifery Practice Education and Workforce Lead, and Associate Director of Nursing (CYP).

“Our advocates will enable staff to feel valued, supported and that they have a voice to raise concerns. The process also puts in place quality improvement initiatives to support and maintain high quality patient care.”

Newcastle Hospitals already has Mental Health Champions in each ward and department and established staff wellbeing processes in place.

Clinical Supervision is also available for staff and teams to access and use in practice. However there was no PNA type of role or activity leading up to its introduction in 2021.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our PNAs to have the freedom to shape how this new avenue of support will work, and I’m excited to see how it will grow and develop over time, “said Executive Chief Nurse Maurya Cushlow.

“Our first cohort of PNAs have achieved so much already and shown how passionate they are about engaging with and supporting colleagues, and many will absolutely benefit from this new advocacy role.

“I know they will demonstrate and share their leadership skills and knowledge with their colleagues no matter what stage of their professional journey they are at, to make sure this is the experience for as many of our nurses as possible. That includes our newly qualified nurses and I expect to see the role of our PNAs front and centre of their preceptorships.”

Pioneering the role in Newcastle

Eileen Aylott, the Regional PNA Advisor and Assistant Director of Nursing at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said she was very proud of Newcastle’s first cohort of PNAs: “This isn’t an easy course to undertake so I know the effort each of them have put in so far.

“These PNAs will lead the way, pioneering the role in Newcastle, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where it will lead.”

Work is now underway to promote and embed the role of the PNA in teams across the trust to ensure staff can learn about the role and how it can support them in practice.

The trust is also keen to increase the numbers of PNAs across the organisation to support colleagues with restorative supervision, helping them to develop and hone personal and professional resilience, and will continue to support staff training for their PNA qualification.

Trust-wide Professional Nurse Advocate Network

This includes the development of a trust-wide PNA Network to help establish processes and support for existing PNA staff to ensure continuity in practice, and the trust has also joined national PNA Networks to ensure NHS colleagues can learn from each other and share best practice.

“This is an exciting time for the staff working in and towards the PNA role as this is a programme still in development”, continues Anna.

“It is a great opportunity to lead the way and put in place a really robust PNA mechanism of support for staff wellbeing for the future.”

The trust currently has 18 qualified PNAs and staff in training. Feedback from staff receiving restorative supervision has been positive and Clinical Supervision will continue to be developed to incorporate Restorative Supervision to maintain staff wellbeing and support staff retention moving forward.

It is a great privilege to be chosen to lead the launch of a new, national nursing role here in Newcastle

Claire Winter, Professional Nurse Advocate at Newcastle Hospitals

Claire Winter is a Clinical Educator for Freeman Hospitals operating theatres
Claire Winter is a Clinical Educator for Freeman Hospital’s operating theatres

One of our first PNAs is Claire Winter, one of the trust’s most experienced Clinical Educators working in the Freeman Hospital’s theatres: “I recently qualified as a PNA in December 2021 and I am really looking forward to shaping and developing the role within Newcastle Hospitals as part of the PNA team,” says Claire.

“We are a small, enthusiastic team which is growing steadily and we’re exciting to have the opportunity to lead and support our staff after the challenges of the COVID pandemic surge, to promote resilience in practice and support staff retention as we move into our “new normal” ways of working.

Claire adds: “On a personal note, as a nurse it is a great privilege to be chosen to lead the launch of a new, national nursing role here in Newcastle.”

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