Senior nurses could be granted supervisory or supernumerary status

Proposed legislation could ensure senior nurses are free to lead and manage their teams.

Sarah Jane
2 May 2019
Happy nurse

Senior nurses feel they need protected status in order to ensure the quality of care and patient safety.

Scotland’s government is preparing to debate legislation that could free-up senior nurses to lead and manage their teams.


The proposed legislation would ensure senior charge nurses in both primary and secondary care no longer have their own caseloads and are protected with supervisory or supernumerary status.

Many senior nurses feel the changes are needed so they can better support their staff and be visible to patients.

The proposals are just one of a number of changes to the Health and Care (Staffing) Scotland Bill which will be debated later today.

Senior charge nurses, or SCNs, are the equivalent of Ward Sisters in England and Wales.


‘A manager and a clinical expert’.

Speaking to the Daily Record, RCN representative Lesley Clarke said it is “hugely important” for senior nurses not to have a caseload in order to ensure the quality of care and patient safety.

She said: “If we don’t have a caseload, we have an overview of everything that is going on in the local clinical area.

“If staff are struggling or need support, I can help them. As an SCN, you are a clinical expert in your area and make sure less experienced or student nurses are working well.

“Staff can come to speak to me about any concerns. If I have a caseload it is more difficult. Mistakes can be made and a lot of time staff feel they are not being supported.”



Jasmin Clark, an Advanced Nurse Practitioner at NHS Lothian, wrote in an RCN blog that many senior nurses are “overloaded” and warned that “to carry out this role effectively the SCN needs to have not only the capability and capacity but the time to deliver this,”

She said; “to practice effectively the SCN role needs to be non-caseload holding or supervisory.”

“Nursing leadership is crucial to patient outcomes and should be right at the point of care. SCN’s need to be given the time to lead, they need to have time to support and develop, as well as manage their staff.”

“They need to be visible and to both patients, their families and their team. They need to be able to lead by example. Ultimately, the role needs to be attractive career opportunity for our nurses of the future, something to aspire to.”

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