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.