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OPINION

'It’s a triumph to have two nurse leaders at top level'

  • 40 Comments

So the nursing world now knows for definite what we’ve hoped for, and speculated about during the past few months.

Come October there will be two senior nursing roles once the chief nursing officer for England permanently steps down. Dame Christine Beasley, the current CNO, announced at the Nursing Times Summit last week that her role will be replaced by a post on the commissioning board as well as another senior nursing post in the department of state, looking after public health.

It is a true testament to the strength Dame Christine has shown in representing nursing that we now have two senior nursing posts influencing policy and provision of nursing care at the very top level. Were a lesser CNO to have been handling the negotiations about how to represent nursing in this new landscape, we may well have seen just one role, or even none at all.

It is also a real triumph that nursing isn’t scrabbling around at the back of the class like an unwanted schoolchild who is last to be picked for the football team. Instead, as Dame Christine said, these nursing roles are the first to be announced in this reorganisation - nursing has made its mark on the new, yet unchartered map, and we have Dame Christine and her network of nurses to thank for placing the profession high up the agenda.

It’s unsurprising really, as Dame Christine has shown throughout her time at the Department of Health that nursing does have a vital part to play in shaping as well as delivering patient care. From her handling of the MRSA and healthcare-associated infection crisis at the start of her tenure in 2004, right through to the professional leadership programme that she will look after until she bows out this autumn, she has epitomised what we mean when we ask for strong nurse leadership.

There are challenges ahead, but there are also opportunities to showcase the invaluable skills of nurses, and move the profession forward rather than dwell in the past.

  • 40 Comments

Readers' comments (40)

  • Someone pass the sick bowl?

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  • Jenni Middleton was - until very recently - the Editor of Retail Jeweller Magazine which may explain her position regarding the incumbent CNO ie she hasn’t got a clue what she’s talking about!

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  • Nursing must look 'in the mirror' to address care failings, CNO
    7 March, 2011 | By Sarah Calkin

    Have you read this and some of the offensive comments of our CNO, but she is obviously the jewel in Jenni Middleton's crown!

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  • Is that right Jenni, are you not of the medical fraternity?

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  • I did a leadership module recently and one of the elements considered to constitue good leadership was about being in contact with those you claim to be leading.
    I don't know about anyone else but I don't remember our CNO being in contact with the nursing community discussing the why's and wherefore's of what is happening at any given point.
    I don't feel inspired by someone at such distance. I may have missed something.

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  • Looking at the Retail Jeweller Magazine website, it looks very similar to the NT in design!! Me thinks that she is an editor/media person and not a nurse and that the NT's publishers have "moved" people around!

    Not good really! If nurses want a voice from NT then it should come from nurses, people who know the job and not sucking up to the CNO!!

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  • I have already noted my observations in previous comments that there is a distinction between NT which is described as a magazine and a professional journal. This has a very unfortunate influence on the quality of the articles published. The question also arises as why the editor demonstrates a constant need to have a photo of herself at the top of the webpage and whether this presents a good professional image to the current an a prospective readership?

    When a good clinical article does appear it is subscription only which is the publishers right but unlike professional journals there is no facility for the purchase of single articles often required by researchers. As a researcher on a tight budget I have to exclude all these articles, a few of which may have increased my knowledge base, as I am nowhere near a library and if I take out a subscription, I would give preference to a professional nursing or medical journal.

    Furthermore, in professional journals it is usual for the editorial board to publish a brief resume of their qualifications, background, experience and area of specialization. I have looked for this on several previous occasions when reading articles by them to question their connection to the nursing profession. On seeking clinical or other information from an article it is important to know the exact source and on whose authority the statements in it are written beyond merely a name or an editorial title.

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  • to finish my comment, it is not intended to be offensive to the editorial board but to express a need for a professional nursing journal for nurses run by nurses or at least editorial articles written by nurses.

    As mentioned on previous occasions it would be helpful to have an edit facility so that any errors in comments can be amended after they have been posted. c.f. Telegraph. Their reply is good too as it is easier to follow the threads of the arguments if one can respond directly to the person concerned. Recommend is useful in giving feedback for those who agree with your views and can save time if you do just wish to reinforce your views without adding more of your own. their system just makes the debates more readable and manageable.

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  • Jenni Middleton

    It's absolutely true that I don't have a nursing background, and that I am a journalist - just like many of my predecessors who have edited this title – and who have been very successful at it. And whom I – and many other nurses – greatly admire. I have made no secret of that fact and wrote that in my very first editorial comment on this site. There are nurses on my editorial team, and I speak to nurses daily about the issues affecting them, as well as visiting and talking to nurses every week, and we have an editorial advisory board made up of people from the profession to guide our decisions. Most of the magazine is written by nurses and edited by nurses and double-blind peer reviewed by nurses. We couldn't put out a nursing title without the input of nurses, and we value that greatly.
    My role is different though. It's about information gathering, sourcing opinion and putting together all of this in an information package - it's about the presentation being readable and useful to you, the content and the overall feel of the magazine. I have edited magazines about paint chemistry, beauty, computers, and yes, jewellery and nursing. That may seem odd to you, but it's really very common that journalists bring their transferable skills to different markets and different professions.
    As for my comments about the CNO, I stand by them that it's fantastic that we are the first to have the posts sorted out - and that we have two senior nursing roles is tremendous. And Chris Beasley did an awful lot to eradicate MRSA, which you don't need to be a nurse to know is a good thing. Of course, that is my personal view and you are all welcome to disagree, in fact I love it when you do and you debate with us and challenge us. That said, I don't think that my opinion is "wrong because I am not a nurse" because I've spoken to lots of nurses about this (many at the Summit last week and the Patient Safety Awards this week) and those nurses are delighted that we have two posts, and feel that the CNO has contributed to the raising of nursing's profile among the corridors of power in Whitehall.

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  • I regret that I am not impressed by this or the presentation of the 'magazine'. The former Nursing Times was previously highly esteemed as top of its class of nursing journals and in my profession I need leading journals and not 'magazines'. When I read for leisure then I would prefer to choose from the huge range of leisure magazines in line with my personal interests.

    I also seem to recall in one of your former articles, which I do not have time to search for at the present moment, you referred to 'we' as if to imply you are a nurse. As I was unable to find your resume on the website, (which is usual practice for professional journals), for some reason I took it at face value that the current editor of the nursing times is a nurse and find it very disappointing that this is not so.

    This, and past experiences of reading nursing times has confirmed my suspicions that it is not a quality journal run by those with a deeper understanding of some highly complex nursing issues such as that which I require to advance my professional knowledge and practice.

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  • Furthermore, unless the nurses in the editorial team are also employed in front line nursing posts as well they cannot possibly be fully informed of current practice and this is apparent in some of the 'entertaining' ideas that have appeared as subjects of the articles!

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  • "... it's about the presentation being readable and useful to you, the content and the overall feel of the magazine."

    Jenni, this of little use to professionals if the information is not scientifically based or accurate.

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  • as you cannot edit, I should add to the above, that information has to be 100% reliable and safe for the patients and all concerned as well.

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  • Jenni Middleton

    It's absolutely true that I don't have a nursing background, and that I am a journalist - just like many of my predecessors who have edited this title – and who have been very successful at it. And whom I – and many other nurses – greatly admire. I have made no secret of that fact and wrote that in my very first editorial comment on this site. There are nurses on my editorial team, and I speak to nurses daily about the issues affecting them, as well as visiting and talking to nurses every week, and we have an editorial advisory board made up of people from the profession to guide our decisions. Most of the magazine is written by nurses and edited by nurses and double-blind peer reviewed by nurses. We couldn't put out a nursing title without the input of nurses, and we value that greatly.
    My role is different though. It's about information gathering, sourcing opinion and putting together all of this in an information package - it's about the presentation being readable and useful to you, the content and the overall feel of the magazine. I have edited magazines about paint chemistry, beauty, computers, and yes, jewellery and nursing. That may seem odd to you, but it's really very common that journalists bring their transferable skills to different markets and different professions.
    As for my comments about the CNO, I stand by them that it's fantastic that we are the first to have the posts sorted out - and that we have two senior nursing roles is tremendous. And Chris Beasley did an awful lot to eradicate MRSA, which you don't need to be a nurse to know is a good thing. Of course, that is my personal view and you are all welcome to disagree, in fact I love it when you do and you debate with us and challenge us. That said, I don't think that my opinion is "wrong because I am not a nurse" because I've spoken to lots of nurses about this (many at the Summit last week and the Patient Safety Awards this week) and those nurses are delighted that we have two posts, and feel that the CNO has contributed to the raising of nursing's profile among the corridors of power in Whitehall.

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  • I really like NT - it's one of a few nursing magazine/journals I read fairly often. Wonder what the anti-Nursing Times people are doing on its website?

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  • Jenni Middleton

    The articles are written by frontline nurses, all in practice, all working now. The clinical content is of the same level it always was and is still double-blind peer reviewed. I have not changed that as I spoke to so many nurses who all told me it was of value. And of course, I recognise that.
    The magazine is not about style over substance, we put in lots of time working on the content, themes and commissioning relevant, up-to-date information and articles. But it's human nature that unless something is presented in a palatable form, people just won't read it. Luckily there are readers who do appreciate the changes and the journal/magazine/title (it tries to be useful to all nurses) have told me this is the case. But if you have any constructive feedback about the presentation, or have looked at a recent issue and have comments about the standard of articles, then, as ever, do feel free to email me on jenni.middleton@emap.com.

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  • Anonymous | 11-Mar-2011 2:10 pm

    like all things it is a matter of opinion which everybody has a right to express. its usefulness depends on the nurses role and intellectual needs.

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  • see how it compares with its competitors such as the Nursing Standard and the British Journal of Nursing, etc.

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  • Thankyou for clearing the matter up Jenni. For my part would have preferred honesty from the outset, as I also presumed by your use of 'we' that you were a nurse or had nursing background. It makes a difference.

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  • there is currently a considerable quantity of conflicting and confusing and inaccurate reports on medical and healthcare research and other topics in the media written by those with the title of medical journalist/correspondent who are in fact laymen. This is misleading to the public who do not always possess the necessary skills to interpret of verify the quality of the information which could, in some cases, cause risks to their health.

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  • "shafted's comment 8-Mar-2011 7:31 pm

    Jenni Middleton was - until very recently - the Editor of Retail Jeweller Magazine which may explain her position regarding the incumbent CNO ie she hasn’t got a clue what she’s talking about!"

    Although (as I pointed out earlier) Jenni may not be a nurse and she may well be blind to our CNO's shortcomings, I like NT: I like its format and I like that the articles are presented in a way that make them accessible to all. The NT may well not be BJN, but so what? If I wanted to read the BJN then I’d buy it. I’ve been around long enough to know that most research should be taken with a pinch of salt. I always find commonsense nursing beats ‘evidence-based’ hands down every time.

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  • nursing has changed and as well as being an art it must have a reliable scientific base. in order to nurse effectively we need to be informed by articles that are well researched and have sound methodology and valid appraisal. This is only to be found in quality professional journals run by healthcare professionals and not in chatty girlie magazines.

    It also appears that nurses need to be educated to degree level to receive the training required to correctly analyse, interpret and implement research findings which will improve practice.

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  • "It also appears that nurses need to be educated to degree level to receive the training required to correctly analyse, interpret and implement research findings which will improve practice."

    As there is no facility for editing comments once they have been submitted, I would like to amend my above comment, to suggest that there are strong arguments for educating future nurses to degree level...etc."
    as it is not my intention to discriminate against those who currently do not have degrees, many of whom are experienced and excellent nurses who may not need a degree to do their job effectively. However, it is a question of moving with the times into a new era when all nurses, if there are no dramatic changes, will all have degrees.

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  • I have no views on the main subject of this debate. I do however think it most unfortunate that of all the people who have commented on this article and the subsequent debate, the only one who had the courage to put their name to what they said was the author of the original article.

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  • This has nothing to do with courage. There is an option to submit comments anonymously which some commentators have chosen to use and exercise their right of anonymity. If this is unacceptable then it should be removed but this may discourage some from expressing their opinions freely and narrow down the wide variety of view points expressed, giving a more biased view on certain issues.

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  • Paul Matheson | 14-Mar-2011 9:20 am

    The debate here is about the article and not on the right to exercise anonymity or not. If it is a problem, maybe it should be taken up elsewhere. there is also the option of using a pseudonym but this does not reveal the identity of the commentator either. the only advantage of this is that it is easier to follow the tread of the argument as one can attribute the comments to each 'name' used.

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  • You say in your article - And Chris Beasley did an awful lot to eradicate MRSA, which you don't need to be a nurse to know is a good thing.

    I wasn't aware MRSA had been eradicated?

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  • I really look forward to reading the editor's comments, and they're always the most popular thing on the site. Let's give her a break!

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  • fine if they are well informed.

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  • MillerT

    11 Mar 1:44pm rather misses the point - along with several others. The editor is responsible for driving and directing the title. The background shouldn't come into it and the manner of some comments here is shameful.

    It is absolutely right that an editor is concerned with collecting and producing content in a way that gets people reading, and making sure that content is valuable to its audience. Undoubtedly Nursing Times' content has been and continues to be just that, and furthermore, remains respected and required. The sweeping claim at 1:44pm 11 March that the editor's background renders the entire magazine suddenly "of little use" is laughable.

    The criticisms of the NT style in comparison with 'professional journals' - something which it does not pretend to be - are unfair also. If those readers are so sure of the things NT isn't, they are surely also bright enough to know that there exist other titles that do cater for different needs in the medical profession.

    The magazine provides for a wide-ranging and passionate audience and does it extremely well. Those who have enjoyed the freedom to express their displeasure about this article alongside the original piece should know better than to too harshly dimiss different opinions.

    Of coruse, whether those opinions are "Well informed", above, is a matter for debate also, as it seems that being well informed is something lacking from many of the dissenters' grasp of the fundamentals required to successfully edit a leading nursing title.

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  • brasseye | 14-Mar-2011 4:27 pm

    I wrote the two comments below. You seem to have misread the first one as nowhere does it mention the background of the editor. I am making the point that professionals need information which is scientifically based and accurate which I think is quite clear.

    My second comment however is rather unfortunate as I wished to edit the first one and add the phrase "...that information has to be 100% reliable and safe for the patients and all concerned as well."

    As I was unable to edit my comment after submitting it I tried to ammend it below where I should have written;

    '... as one cannot edit..' instead of "as you cannot edit" which is open to misinterpretation and looks as though I was directing my comment at the editor, in view of the content of other comments. I have already suggested in an e-mail to the editors that a facility would be useful as exists on other websites so that one can edit one's comments after they have been submitted.

    I hope this might clear up any misunderstanding.

    Anonymous | 11-Mar-2011 1:44 pm

    "... it's about the presentation being readable and useful to you, the content and the overall feel of the magazine."

    Jenni, this of little use to professionals if the information is not scientifically based or accurate.



    Anonymous | 11-Mar-2011 1:45 pm

    as you cannot edit, I should add to the above, that information has to be 100% reliable and safe for the patients and all concerned as well.

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  • It's a "magazine" which tries to inform. like everything you read in any "magazine" you need to formulate & analyse what is being said and then decide on your own opinions. If you read the The Sun/Daily mail/Mirror but expect The Times/Guardian/Telegraph then more fool you.
    Here's an idea; if you don't like the magazine then stop reading it! Seems simple to me.

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  • Anonymous | 15-Mar-2011 9:14 am

    it is about time nursing became an all degree profession to avoid pointless comments such as these

    if you have nothing constructive to say you are not obliged to waste space writing a comment!

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  • Can I ask what was pointless about the previous comment? It appeared to me to be making a point that this journal is light reading and should be taken as such. It appeared to be constructive in saying that if you do not agree with the editor's ability to write the orignal article and do not like the journal's content than don't read it. It was done simply, not writing reams saying the same thing; to the point
    I have a degree but this in no way makes me feel that my point is more valid than anyone else's. I am open to all points of view. I hope this is constructive enough.

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  • "...this journal is light reading and should be taken as such.."

    light reading? with information which is supposed to inform nursing care which is quite a serious issue?

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  • It is good that Jenni is an editor, she does not need to be a nurse and clearly with so many comments, she is successful in operating a media site for nurses.

    I don't think nursing times counts as a scientific journal, it is a magazine for nursing issues and debate and I think it is good for that. Journals exist if you want scientific articles and the use of each is allowed!

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  • "light reading? with information which is supposed to inform nursing care which is quite a serious issue?"

    I like the Nursing Times as easy to read and I can do it in my break time. I like reading others points of view; some I agree with & some I don't. Put for me, degree or no degree, everyone's point is valid.
    However if I want something to inform my nursing care then I'm afraid I would need more that just the Nursing Times. So yes, it is light reading.

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  • I have not had time to read every single message so apologise if my comments are duplicated. I'd just like to make a point or two based on my own observation and experience as a 57 year old who trained initially as an SEN in the 70s and incapable of passing A levels.

    One is that I get frustrated with journals like the BMJ, and even PULSE because they are self-back patting publications because there is little or no alternative view to those who write for/in them, or so it appears.

    Another, is I was a 'heretic' in nursing from the start. There seems an ethos in nursing that if one thinks differently, then somehow we don't care or don't understand. I found this because I actually liked, and could see an advantage in Information Technology. Because I was an SEN I was often deemed to lack a higher level of understanding. I even failed one module because my 'vision' was not shared by the markers. (I feel smug now!)

    I think it is good for all professions to welcome an 'outsiders' view from an educated stance. Sometimes people outside 'the profession' can actually have more empathy than some of those within it. In fact they can bring something to it rather than miss that which those within think only they can see (If that isn't double Dutch?)

    As for degrees, I am suspicious and frustrated because I have one degree and a compliation that amounts to another, yet I have a learning difficulty that almost prevented me from upgrading to RGN. I am an advocate for multiple intelligence and that having emotional intelligence, spatial intelligence needs to be a balance, and that only marking on academic intelligence is a BIG mistake.
    I still think my new vision has not yet been recognised but live in hope.

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  • I have no problem with NT being edited by a non-nurse - it was ever thus. I do, however, take issue with the current CNO and agree with the lack of communication with nurses per se.

    I also strongly believe that the quality of NT as a professional 'magazine' has deteriorated not only under Jenni's watch but over the last 10 yrs or so. It was indeed a respected magazine once upon a time but now .............

    Suffice it to say I no longer subscribe.

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  • I would request that Ms Middleton didn't use the term 'we' when referring to the nuring profession. The only people entitled to use that are retired nurses, registered nurses, student nurses, and healthcare assistants.

    Nursing Times has not been seen as a valid source of reference for a number of years. At university we were told that where possible we should avoid articles from NT as they would not be seen as that credible.

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