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Thursday, 7 February, 2002, 10:54 GMT
'Super nurse' posts unfilled
Charities are paying super nurse wages in several areas
A large number of the new "super nurse" posts remain unfilled, according to government figures.

In some areas of the country, trusts are having to approach charities to help them fund the positions.

More than 40% of nurse consultant jobs, out of around 300 approved up to and including August last year, were vacant, according to a Department of Health (DoH) spokesman.

The charity organisation Macmillan Cancer Relief said it was paying the salaries of super nurses in Eastbourne, Manchester, Warrington and Glasgow, although funding would run out after three years, according to an article in Nursing Times.

If NHS trusts have to go to charities with a begging bowl, a nurse applying for the post might feel they didn't have great job security

Josie Irwin, RCN
Liz Redfern, until recently regional director of nursing for south west England, said the government's failure to provide extra funding for the posts was "a real barrier" for trusts.

Ms Redfern, nursing director at Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust, told Nursing Times: "Money has been allocated by the government for its modernisation agenda, which could be used for nurse consultants, but there is nothing earmarked."

She said trusts had approached charities and established joint posts with some universities because they could not pay for the new positions.


The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said the revelations were a serious cause for concern.

The RCN's senior employment relations adviser Josie Irwin said: "This is very disappointing.

"I refuse to believe there aren't nurses to do these jobs but, if NHS trusts have to go to charities with a begging bowl, a nurse applying for the post might feel they didn't have great job security."

The job has a salary range from 27,460 to 42,010 and post-holders spend at least half their time working with patients.

They are also responsible for developing professional practice, being involved in research and evaluation and contributing to education, training and development.

A DoH spokesman said: "Of all nurse consultant posts approved up to and including August 2001, nearly 60% have been filled.

"There is always a time lag between approval and appointment because posts have to be established and advertised before the selection process can begin."

See also:

04 Apr 00 | Health
Supernurses 'to be doubled'
11 Feb 00 | Scotland
'Super nurses' step forward
09 Jul 99 | Health
'Super-nurses' arrive
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