Published: 24/02/2005, Volume II5, No. 5944 Page 39

Anxieties about the transition from D to E-grade among nursing staff at University Hospital Birmingham foundation trust led to the introduction of a workplace-based role development programme. It spans all nursing posts from the final-placement students and newly qualified staff to ward managers and clinical specialists.

The initial problem came following a decision to recruit more D-grades than there were vacancies for due to the impossibility of attracting enough E-grade nurses.

Difficulties arose when those staff failed to apply for a move up the career ladder as anticipated and the skill-mix became distorted. The nurse education co-ordinator identified the causes as a shortfall in skills and a lack of clarity around role requirements and the development programme grew from there.

It soon emerged that the initiative was needed across the nursing spectrum: the concerns of junior staff nurses were also being felt among their senior colleagues.

The nurse education co-ordinator and clinical education team went on to oversee the programme delivery and evaluation and its success has been reflected in a steady increase in the number of course attenders.

Constructing the programme's integrated framework allows it to replicate the principles of lifelong learning, and with the nursing staff participating in its planning and evaluation at each level there is also a better sense of a defined career pathway. A structured support programme has been built in as a further step in the overall evaluation.

Now it is not only the D-grade nurses moving in to new roles with greater confidence and satisfaction.

The scheme is contributing to the emergence of a more coherent team with a better skill mix. Earlier recruitment and retention problems are being overcome and trained staff vacancies are currently running at below 1 per cent.

For more information contact Lindsey Webb on 0121-627 1627 ex 53147.