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Nursing needs new 'narrative' to rebuild public confidence


The nursing profession must create a “narrative” that is forward looking, positive and welcoming to young people if it is to rebuild its tarnished image, according to a senior government nurse.

Viv Bennett is director of nursing at the Department of Health and, along with NHS Commissioning Board chief nurse Jane Cummings, has been drawing up a draft “Vision for Nursing” in England.

The strategy is underpinned by “six Cs”: care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment.

Speaking about the “vision” last week at the annual Unison nursing seminar, Professor Bennett said: “Elements of our profession are having a really bad time in the press. We are in a position where the whole nursing discourse is centred on the failures of the system and a few practitioners.

“We want to build a nursing narrative, which is forward looking, positive looking and really makes visible…. all nurses, midwives and care givers who are doing a fantastic job every day.”

Professor Bennett said action was needed to “rebuild pride in being a nurse and the pride of the public in their nurses”. 

“We need to be saying what works well and demonstrating some of the really good nursing care that is making a difference to people across all settings,” she said.

It must be focused on “excellent and enduring values” for the current healthcare system, she said, rather than constantly “turning the clock back” and saying “if only they did it like they used to, if only they brought back something they used to do”.

Professor Bennett added that the profession needed to be more welcoming to young people and promote itself as “a really excellent career”.

She said: “We have to face some truths around it. We are known as a profession that actually savages it’s young. I’ve heard that comment a lot of times….and that’s an awful thing to have said.

“People will give you examples, they are not fit for practice, they are no good on the wards, they didn’t train like I did so they’re bad, they’re full of ideas that will never work. We need to stop doing it.

“We need to really welcome the young into our profession and make it somewhere where people want to be.”

A draft version of the “vision” is currently out for consultation. A final draft is due to be published in December.


Readers' comments (5)

  • Tinkerbell

    A 'tarnished' image that was deliberately created by a tory propaganda machine to totally discredit nurses so that they could destroy the NHS.

    Well done Mrs Odone and the likes of you who set out to discredit ALL nurses with your tory spin. What a hateful, self motivated, subjective, greedy lot you truly are.

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  • Proposed paycuts, unpaid unsocial hours,working 12 hours without a break, working every weekend, working with minimal staff, having no senior support, being treated like dirt, taking the blame for everything that ever happens and knowing that your first priority is to cover your ass is not very appealing to many young (or old) people.

    'we are known as a profession that savages its young" - yep, that about sums it up.

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  • But that's just it, Prof Bennett. Nursing just isn't "a really excellent career" anymore, is it? You are clearly so out of touch with what is wrong with Nursing today and the reasons for it, that it almost defies belief.

    Nursing students (of ALL ages) should be given a bloody medal just for applying to be a nurse in this current climate. They will enter a profession that is not valued by any government. Students and newly qualified nurses are bloody brilliant and an absolute joy to work with, teach and learn from. Here is what these brave souls have to look forward to in the future. Years of pay freezes, dismantling of their pay and conditions framework, increased pension contributions and unable to retire until they are almost dead from overwork. They will also live with the constant threat of redundancy, poor staffing and skill/mix levels and managed by a bunch of monkeys dancing to the tune of the latest uninformed, self-serving, goverment organ-grinder.

    Finally. How dare you imply that Nursing is in this state because already qualified and experienced nurses are trying to turn the clock back. A lazy, cheap and nasty attempt to deflect the blame from your own door. The savagery you talk about, is all coming from above!

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  • Hear hear Mags!

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  • what a spiteful nasty article, turning the clock back is worse than the great NHS system we have now?

    no-one with half a brain cell would want to train as a nurse now.

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