In the spring edition of Nursing in Practice, 'Climbing the leadership ladder', we asked: why do female nurses struggle to reach the top of the leadership ladder?

Climbing the leadership ladder

For many years, nurses were often viewed as doctors’ handmaidens. Times have changed, but despite the advances the profession has seen, how much do elements of these old-fashioned views linger? What’s holding primary care nurses – female nurses, in particular – back?

In primary care, although men make up only 4% of the nursing workforce in general practice, they occupy 10% of nurse partner roles. They also hold 10% of advanced nurse practitioner and nurse specialist posts, according to NHS Digital figures

In the spring edition of Nursing in Practice, 'Climbing the leadership ladder', we spoke to women from a variety of nursing backgrounds who hold a range of leadership roles but who all have a shared experience – they have had to work hard for their voices to be heard.

We asked: Why do female nurses struggle to reach the top of the leadership ladder?

Carole Phillips was until recently a nurse clinical director at Brunel Health Group PCN, and is a national professional advisor for the CQC, and a senior lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, developing the physicians associate and advanced clinical practice course.

She says practice nurses can still be seen as subordinates to GPs, as nurses or HCAs in general practice today are given tasks such restocking supplies in the practice rooms, changing the paper on examination tables and emptying bins. 

Jade Fenton, a practice nurse team leader in Worcester, told Nursing in Practice that nurses may lack confidence in their leadership abilities, but many would make great leaders if the right training was available to them.

We also heard that there are too few primary care and community nurses in senior decision-making roles. Addressing issues such as pay and conditions for general practice nurses, and ensuring their voice is heard amongst decision-makers, are urgent challenges.

Nursing in Practice is exploring the experience of nurse leaders in primary care in a new series ‘Lessons in leadership’. Kicking off the series is a discussion with Tricia D’Orsi, nurse director at NHS Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board (ICB).

Also, in the spring edition of Nursing in Practice, is an exclusive analysis of the introduction of virtual wards – the bridge between hospitals and the community that are helping to improve discharge rates from secondary care.

The prevention and management of pressure ulcers, hypertension diagnosis and management, psoriasis, genitourinary symptoms of the menopause, and the management of self-harm in primary care, feature in our latest Clinical updates. 

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