Responsibility as professional leadership and decision making: Interviews with non-medical Responsible Clinicians

Jennifer Oates, Carole Burrell, Selma Ebrahim, John L. Taylor, Paul Veitch, Toby Brandon

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Responsible Clinicians are professionals who are primarily accountable for the care and treatment of patients detained under the Mental Health Act, 1983 in England and Wales. The role has only been taken up by under 100 nurses and psychologists since 2007. The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of non-medical Responsible Clinicians, to inform our understanding of interprofessional dynamics and professional identity in contemporary mental healthcare.

A qualitative study comprising thematic analysis of interviews with twelve non-medical Responsible Clinicians.

A major theme of ‘Interpretations of responsibility’ emerged, with two sub themes: ‘Responsibility as leadership ‘and ‘Responsibility as decision making’. Taking on the role had implications beyond the care of specific patients. Participants saw themselves as having the power to shape their team and service whilst exercising their authority to make difficult decisions about risk and restrictions.

More widespread adoption of the non-medical Responsible Clinician role should not be seen solely as a solution to workforce shortages or lack of opportunities for professional advancement. Consultant nurses and psychologists who take on this role are seising the opportunity to steer service developments more widely, influencing team dynamics and perceptions of accountability.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101575
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Law and Psychiatry
Early online date16 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


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