Stress Among Ward Sisters and Charge Nurses


This new report examines the stresses identified by ward sisters and charge nurses and draws comparisons with previous research on stress among hospital consultants. The study was commissioned by the NHS Executive London to provide them with reliable information upon which they could plan action to tackle these problems as part of their modernisation drive.

The major source of stress among ward sisters and charge nurses was their anxiety about whether, how and by whom their wards and units were to be staffed each day. They had serious concerns about the competence of unknown agency nursing staff. Much of their stress was caused by organisational and managerial factors which they felt to be beyond their control. Many of their problems related to the infrastructure of the organisation - unreliable support services, old and poorly maintained equipment and inadequate IT and administrative support. They were particularly concerned by patients who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, which they identified as an organisational bed management problem beyond their control.

Ward sisters and charge nurses felt that management imperatives and targets were imposed on them with insufficient consultation or consideration of how they were to be implemented. They found it particularly difficult to get their voices heard. The report makes 22 detailed recommendations and argues that if the modernisation agenda of the NHS Plan is to be implemented it is time to tackle the underlying organisational, inter-professional and professional causes of stress among key members of NHS staff.

Allen, I. (2001) Stress Among Ward Sisters and Charge Nurses, Policy Studies Institute, London, ISBN: 0853747865