One in five primary care trusts does not have an executive director of nursing with voting rights on the board, a survey has revealed.

The figures were collated by the Royal College of Nursing, which is urging PCTs to ensure nursing is properly represented among boards of directors.

The RCN this week published a policy paper saying all trusts should have an executive director of nursing with a nationally agreed set of competencies.

It says: “In order to commission effectively, strong nursing leadership is crucial to ensure that there is a clear understanding of what is required to deliver effective services for health and wellbeing to communities.

“It is vital that the voice of nursing is adequately represented in the governance of the NHS.”

The survey of all 152 PCTs in England found 72 per cent had an executive nursing director with voting rights on the board, compared with 20 per cent that did not.

Eight per cent of PCTs did not confirm either way.

The RCN will write to the chair of each PCT that does not appear to have an executive director of nursing on the board outlining the contribution of nursing governance to decision making and local services.

The paper also warns PCTs that using the same executive directors of nursing for their commissioning and provider arms could cause conflicts of interest and lead to confusion.