An evaluation of the RCN Clinical Leadership Development Programme: part 1

Geraldine Cunningham, Alison Kitson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


The RCN Clinical Leadership Development Programme was set up in 1995 and sought to identify how clinical nurses in recognised leadership positions could improve the quality of patient care.

The programme was tested on four senior nurses and 24 ward sisters in four acute hospital trusts in England over an 18-month period. The primary research question was whether the intervention improved the clinical leadership skills of participants. A pre-test/post-test design incorporating action research was deployed.

On a number of leadership dimensions, ward sisters’ and senior nurses’ performance had significantly improved. Five key themes emerged from the process data documenting the journey towards more effective clinical leadership: managing self; managing the team; patient-centred care; networking; and becoming more politically aware. There was evidence to show that patient care had also improved as measured by the way nursing care was organised; by patients’ accounts of care they received and by documented improvements nurses carried out as a result of direct observation of care.

From the results of the study, it appears that there is a need for more effective clinical leadership development programmes for nurses to achieve better patient-centred care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-37
Number of pages4
JournalNursing Standard
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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