A selection of reader responses about our story on senior nurses going 'back to the wards' to save trusts money

As a money-saving measure the, back-to-wardsplan may be questionable, but as a staff support and development strategy it has a great deal going for it.

In my previous NHS life, the fact that the medical and clinical directors continued with a patient delivery role was often a breath of reality at high-level discussions, something which few if any of the other directors and senior service managers could claim.

As a directorate manager I tried to ensure I was capable of carrying out a useful task in each of my areas of responsibility. My main motivation was not to save money but to demonstrate I was part of that team, to have real experience and practical understanding of each work area, and to fill a role which released those with more critical skills.

This is part of my 'servant' view of being a leader and manager, that you are there for your staff and not the other way round, and I was delighted to read how positively some managers have taken to this idea. The real test is if it can be sustained in a crisis.

Compared to senior management tasks, 'menial' jobs are usually immediately critical to patient outcomes. This should not be an issue of pay grades or status, but one of teamwork, providing an opportunity to acknowledge 'from the top' that all roles are important.

Is this good 'value for money'? Yes, in terms of their learning, delivery of an important and real front line role, improved awareness of what it is like at that level of their own organisation, person-to-person contact with staff, and improved credibility.

Richard Atfield, academic developer and senior lecturer, Oxford Brookes University Business School

Regarding your story on nurses going back to the wards, this is an interesting solution to the problem of staff shortages at ward level, and I applaud the admission that there is a problem. However, many staff are going to think what they have always believed - that the NHS is top-heavy with management - when they can spare one day a week to cover staff shortages on the ward.

Are these senior staff being paid at the same rate as the post they are covering? A calculation of the money that would be saved for these staff working a four-day week must be huge.

Also, if they can manage their work in four days, then doesn't this prove that there are too many managers?

There seems to be too many high-powered and highly-paid staff sitting around tables all over the country, trying to come up with ideas to save money, when yes, perhaps their time would be better spent looking after patients, as without them we would not have a job in the first place.
Rosemary Brown, registered general nurse

I think the initiative is an excellent idea. Not only does it assist hospitals to provide the care within the limited budget, but it will also enable these people to see and understand what it is really like on the front line of care and the constraints and pressures staff are under everyday.

It also renews and regenerates a skill-base of care staff, and helps management-level nurses at management level to maintain their registration. All good stuff.

Val Wells, registered general nurse