One of the most challenging aspects of settling into your new role may be how best to delegate tasks to healthcare support workers. Scoping studies have told us that many newly qualified practitioners struggled with this aspect of their role.

This unit offers you tips, resources and the opportunity to reflect on how well you are doing with delegation.

Information to support delegation

The following resources will provide you with useful information about the process of delegation and your responsibilities when delegating activities.

Find out what your responsibilities and the key issues are when you delegate work to colleagues from the relevant resources below:

Profession-specific advice from professional organisations e.g. RCN, HCPC, RCM, RCN

Delegation style

Most newly qualified practitioners find it challenging to delegate aspects of their workload to others. Learning how to delegate is a skill and, like all skills, will improve with practice.

Reflect on situations where you had to delegate activities to a colleague. How did you feel in this situation:

  • what was the activity?
  • how confident did you feel?
  • how did you know that the activity was carried out safely?
  • what areas do you need to develop your skills in?
  • after reflecting on this situation how would you handle a similar situation?

Discuss your reflections with your mentor and plan how you can develop your skills. Record your reflections and discussion for your portfolio.

Delegation in your clinical setting

Consider how effectively you are delegating within your clinical team and the work that can be delegated.

  • which tasks could you delegate to provide more efficient patient/client care?
  • who do you delegate tasks to and why?
  • who is accountable for delegated activities?
  • how comfortable are you with delegating?

You might want to write your thoughts down and revisit them at a later date in the programme.

The Knowledge Network GoodPractice Leadership Toolkit (Managing people and teams section) contains a wide range of information about delegation. You will need your Athens login and password to access these resources. If you don't have an Athens password, contact or complete the application at this link

Resources you will find useful include:

  • What Should I Delegate?
  • Preparing to Delegate
  • Top Tips for Dealing with Delegation Challenges

Delegating Safely

Clear communication is key to delegating safely, and as a new practitioner is it important to make sure the person you are delegating an activity or task to;

  • understands what you specifically are asking them to do
  • has the appropriate training, knowledge and skills to undertake that task safely
  • knows how to get support should they need it

Review how you are developing your skills to delegate through active discussions with your team.  Highlight any areas where you feel anxious about delegating and reflect on why this might be and what you can do with your mentor to build upon your existing skills.  

KSF post outlines in teams and skill sets

In order to delegate effectively, it is important that you understand the skill set of other members of the multidisciplinary team.

With your NHS KSF Reviewer and/or mentor, review the NHS KSF post outline for a member of staff who you may delegate to. How does being clear about their skill set help you to delegate more effectively?

Note this down to add to your portfolio entry later.

Delegation scenarios

From the following 3 scenarios, select 1 or 2 that reflect the work that you delegate in your work setting.  Work through these to help you develop your understanding of delegation.

You might find it useful to discuss your responses with your mentor and/or other healthcare workers.

Scenario 1

You have been delegated a task that you are unhappy about carrying out, as you feel that you lack knowledge and training in this area. You may want to revisit what you learned in the assertiveness section of this module when completing this activity.

  • how do you deal with the immediate situation?
  • how do you identify specific aspects of this task that you are unhappy to carry out?
  • how could this situation be best resolved?
  • what are your learning needs and how can you meet them?

Scenario 2

You have delegated an aspect of the care of a patient/client to a student or healthcare support worker.

  • who is responsible and accountable for the standard of care delivered?
  • what are the responsibilities of the delegating practitioner?
  • if the work is delegated to a student, what are their responsibilities?
  • if the work is delegated to an HCSW, what are their responsibilities?

You will find the following resources contain the information you need:

Scenario 3

A patient/client complains about the length of time they have been waiting to be seen. You delegated this to another member of staff over 30 minutes ago but they have gone on their tea break.

  • what actions would you take immediately?
  • what actions would you take later?
  • who would you discuss this situation with?
  • how can you prevent this situation from recurring?
  • what skills did you need to help you deal with this situation?

Portfolio activity: delegation skills

Having worked through a selection of the activities in this section, you should summarise your learning, highlighting how this may affect your future practice. You will be able to use the notes that you have made while completing the activities in this section. You can share your findings with your mentor.

Add an alert to your Flying Start NHS® portfolio and/or make a date in your diary to revisit Delegation Skills.