Delegation in ward nursing teams: developing an intervention for effective and safe delegation

Evidence suggest that nurses find it difficult to delegate and supervise care and that ineffective delegation can lead to poorer patient outcomes and risks to patients.

Start date
1 July 2021
Three years
Application deadline
Funding source
The University of Surrey, Project-led Studentship Award
Funding information

Funding covers: 

  • Full UK/EU tuition fee 
  • Stipend at £15,285 p.a. (2020/21) 
  • RTSG of £1,000 p.a. 


Due to growing healthcare costs, an increasing older population with complex healthcare needs, and growing nurse vacancies in the United Kingdom, patient care is increasingly delegated to healthcare assistants. Evidence suggests that nurses find it difficult to delegate and supervise care and that ineffective delegation leads to poorer patient outcomes and risks to patients. A public inquiry into the care failings at the Mid Staffordshire hospital in the UK which resulted in higher than average patient death rates, indicated a lack of nursing leadership at ward level with healthcare assistants being left unsupervised. 

Currently, there are no known evidence-based interventions and limited structured organisational mechanisms in place to support safe and effective delegation and supervision of healthcare assistants. This PhD study has been designed to fill this gap in knowledge.  Effective delegation means that nurses can attend to complex patient needs and concentrate on advanced nursing tasks, such as observing significant medical changes and teaching patients about self-management. Delegation has presented further challenges during the pandemic, with staff having to work in clinical areas unfamiliar to them.  

The aim of this PhD is to develop an intervention to support safe and effective delegation of care by nurses in NHS Acute Hospital Care. The objectives are to: 

  1. Conduct a systematic review identifying the facilitators and barriers to effective delegation. 
  2. Develop an intervention supporting effective and safe delegation in nursing ward teams.  
  3. Conduct a feasibility study to evaluate the implementation of the intervention in one Hospital Trust.  
  4. Carry out a process evaluation to test the acceptability of the intervention and obtain key stakeholder views.  

Supervisory Team: 

Dr Carin Magnusson, Health Sciences, University of Surrey. 

Dr Freda Mold, Health Sciences, University of Surrey. 


Professor Helen Allan, Middlesex University. 

Related links
An analysis of delegation styles among newly qualified nurses Distal nursing journal article

Eligibility criteria

Applicants are expected to hold a good honours degree (upper second) in an appropriate discipline, but prior research experience in health and social care may be acceptable. An MSc in an appropriate discipline is desirable.  

This studentship is only for UK/EU applicants. 

IELTS requirements: If English is not your first language, you will be required to have an IELTS Academic of 6.5 or above (or equivalent), with no sub-test score below 6. 

The programme will be the Health Sciences PhD.

How to apply

Applications can be made through the Health Sciences PhD programme page.

Please submit copies of educational qualifications, your CV and a research proposal based on objectives in the advert for this project of up to 3 pages including the following sections: rationale, research question and objectives, study design and methodology.   

Application deadline

Contact details

Carin Magnusson
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 684552

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