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Chief nurse to draw up national strategy for nursing


A national blueprint for the future of nursing in England is to be developed over coming months, Nursing Times has learnt.

England’s new chief nurse has begun “critical” talks with the profession’s leaders about how to redefine nursing and to establish her “vision”.

A group of around 50 senior nurses, including nursing directors from different types of organisation, education leaders and senior union nursing representatives were due to meet for the first time yesterday.

Jane Cummings, the NHS Commissioning Board’s newly appointed chief nursing officer, organised the meeting to discuss her future “vision” for nursing.

Nursing Times understands the conversations – along with further talks – will lead to the development of a national nursing strategy, which will be published later this year.

Ms Cummings, a former emergency care nurse, is yet to formerly detail her plans for the profession since taking on the new role in March. Speaking last month at the NHS Confederation annual conference in Manchester, she told delegates her guiding principles were “care, compassion, commitment and courage” (news, page 5, 26 June).

One senior nursing director, who was due to attend the event yesterday, said Ms Cummings wanted to establish a “new narrative” for nursing and “describe what nursing is” for the future.

She said discussions would look at “the breadth as well as the depth of nursing to set out a model of care”. Discussions were likely to focus on areas such as nursing values, improving patient experience, safety, how to measure compassion, and measuring the outcomes of nursing care, she added.

Another senior nursing figure who was due to take part in the discussions told Nursing Times there was “a need both for Jane and for the new NHS” to set out a new vision and strategy for the profession. She described the discussions as “critical” to the future of nursing in England.

The source said the events would also allow Ms Cummings to develop her plans ahead of the publication of the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry report. The report, being drawn up by inquiry chair Robert Francis, is expected in the autumn and is likely to focus on failings of nursing in particular, as well as care quality in general.

The source said: “With the impending arrival of the Francis report, we will want to get on the front foot, rather than being on the back foot without being ready with a response.”

Another source involved with the event said Ms Cummings would use it to “try to get all the ducks in a row and plan for her whole tenure” as chief nurse.

The source said topics likely to be covered included the place of nursing in the new NHS system , nursing leadership in general, staffing levels and healthcare assistants’ skills and regulation, and the nursing role in public health.

Ms Cummings was formerly chief nurse for the strategic health authority NHS North West, where she led the development of the Energise for Excellence project, which is designed to encourage nurses and midwives to lead local quality improvement.

Under the government’s reforms, the previous single CNO post was split into two. Ms Cummings is the CNO on the NHS Commissioning Board, which will be responsible for much of the day to day running of the health service.   

Meanwhile, former deputy CNO Viv Bennett was named as the Department of Health’s director of nursing and its adviser on public health nursing.


Readers' comments (4)

  • No matter what your vision of nursing the new NHS will ultimately reduce the number of qualified staff in all areas reducing knowledge and skills passed onto students. The introduction of uni led nurse training has had a major impact on nursing.

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  • We had the National Pay Re Structure (Agenda for Change)which is presently being eroded to 'local' how long will it take to go full circle with a New 'National' Strategy for Nursing?
    Put the money into paying the nurses on the ground who make a difference instead of paying exhorbitant salaries to managers to re invent the wheel.

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  • P Rogers what a lot of unattributed ‘sources’, a cynic might think Jane has already mastered the art of the strategic leak, but that’s OK because what really matters are deeds not words.

    If a new national strategy delivers the changes nursing needs all well and good, but let’s be clear if the senior nurses involved are the ones who don’t dare stray out of their offices, the academics are some of the many stuck in the ivory towers terrified of real world healthcare and the union leaders are the same twin set chocolate teapots from the RCN the chances of a watershed are frankly slim.

    So Jane some changes your strategy need to deliver:
    i. Effective professional leadership, supervision and appraisal of the nurses actually nursing
    ii. The reconnection of nurse educators, and hence preregistration curricula with the delivery of real world care services
    iii. A belief amongst front line staff that their ‘leaders’ understand the challenges they face day in day out and are fighting the nursing cause in the board room and at every other committee meeting which so many DNS’s mistake for work.
    iv. Recognition amongst ‘senior nurses’ that a communication strategy that works is an essential aspect of professional leadership and visibility is a key part of such a strategy

    If you manage to pull this off, you’ll truly deserve the inevitable letter from the Lord Chancellors office. You might also succeed in resurrecting the sense of pride in the profession that the majority of nurses once had, although I fear your won’t be able to stop the cynically exploitation of this commitment by NHS mangers fighting to climb the greasy pole.

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  • I am meeting Jane and Wendy this week as part of the practice nurse component for the new strategy and I can assure you that all the nurses involved are all working in surgeries on a day to day basis and understand the pitfalls and benefits and will be representing real working nurses...

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