The Department of Health’s job advert for its most senior nurse has renewed concern over the profession losing influence at the top of government.
The DH has begun advertising for a “director of nursing and the government’s principal advisor on public health nursing”.
There will also be a separate senior nurse post, called the chief nursing officer, on the national NHS Commissioning Board, which is to take on responsibility for many of the DH’s current functions under government reforms.
The public health director of nursing job will be based in the DH public health directorate, the advert says.
It says the postholder will “be accountable to the director general of public health”, and “work collaboratively with the chief nursing officer on the NHS Commissioning Board on a broad range of issues”.
Nursing Times has previously reported concerns about the postholder reporting to a director general, rather than the health secretary, and their role being confined to public health.
Unison head of nursing Gail Adams said today: “We are pleased that the role has finally been advertised. But we remain concerned it is at a lower level than the current Chief Nursing Officer.
“We are also concerned about the reporting structure. The chief medical officer reports to the secretary of state for health. Is this the secretary of state devaluing the voice of nurses within the department?”
Ms Adams said she was concerned about the lack of a senior nurse voice on issues outside public health nursing. She said: “Where will the government go for professional advice on the rest of professional areas?”
The salary is advertised at £105,000, “but more may be available for an exceptional candidate”.
Responsibilities will include:
- “ensuring that nursing advice contributes to a robust policy framework supported by any appropriate legislation; advising on the appropriate resources to take forward health, health services and social care and being held to account for the advice;
- supporting ministers on cross government nursing and public health matters;
- advising on the mandate for NHS Commissioning Board;
- advising on the regulation of the nursing and midwifery professions to ensure it is fit for purpose;
- contributing nursing advice on international issues;
- leading on nursing issues relating to Public Health England to ensure that nursing plays its full role in improving the public’s health”.