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Government ad for chief national nurse job renews concern over influence


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”.

Readers' comments (7)

  • Wanted: advanced nurse tea maker, with responsibility for carrying the chief medical officer's briefcase. Duties: knowing her/her place.

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  • Well translated Meatbag, it may as well say that!

    And to think, there are STILL Nurses who are arguing on other threads AGAINST the profession getting the respect, status, power and pay it deserves!

    Pathetic! Those Nurses should be ashamed.

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  • This might be a controversial question (for which I'm sure some will smack me down) but here it goes... in years to come, when the different generations of nurses eventually retire, and the nurses working are predominantly university/degree graduates, does anyone think that will mean we will be a more ascertive, confident profession?

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  • if i went for this job i wouldn't get i am not a yes (wo)man.

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  • Anonymous | 30-Oct-2011 8:56 am, it is not as controversial as you may think. I think that will certainly have an effect. The profession as a whole, young and old (for lack of a better term) is absolutely spineless and far too willing to roll over and do nothing, just look at the issue of strike action and the level of apathy! I do think a degree profession, whilst not being the whole answer by a long shot, will have a large part to play in changing this.

    Anonymous | 31-Oct-2011 8:26 am, you - like me - wouldn't even get shortlisted for interview because we aren't in the little clique of those at the top who will undoubtedly hire someone they know! Not that I'm suspicious of the whole process at all...

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 30-Oct-2011 8:56 am

    I have a few minutes to spare, and at the risk of some serious 'abuse' (which I might deserve, because this is somewhat off topic) that 'graduate effect' point interests me.
    For about 2 years, I have been trying to work out why nurses seem so ready to accept guidance, without noticing that it contains internal contradictions, and without (apparently) writing to the RCN, etc, and saying 'that guidance is wrong, because ...'.
    I do - but my degrees are in chemistry, and you can test a theory about a chemical reaction, by trying it out. But you cannot 'experiment on patients' in the same way. Also, my D.Phil is a research degree, but I suspect that most nurses, even if they have masters degrees, only have experience of 'taught' degrees.

    Anyway, my off-topic point, is does the combination of 'we have to only do things which are safe to patients', and 'taught' degrees, make nurses much less likely than I am to be critical of high-level guidance, and to write to its authors saying 'that bit on page 14 is nonsense', etc - something I do quite a lot ?

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  • A nursing degree is a bachelor of science degree and u do 'experiment on patients' as you put it michael, thats why you have research nurses. They go on to do their masters and beyond to be involved in research whether it be for a private company or an nhs university trust.

    Further more, we have to under pin our practice with evidenced based theory so research obviously plays an important part in that. It might sound "oh how the pretty little nurses like to be clever" to some people but fundamentally it is for patient safety. So part of the pre reg nurse training is to distinguish between good and bad research which means learning to critically analyse research to a standard and one's own practice.

    Forgive me michael, but I didn't quite understand your first paragraph. On which guidance do you refer to?

    Back to the original topic.. I will be very interested to see who is appointed the job because i think it could be role moulded into something with great value. But if someone who isn't up to the task and is appointed, it could go the other way. So watch this space...

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