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Do we need the Queen’s Nurse award?

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After a break of 40 years, October saw the return of the Queen’s Nurses when 13 nurses were invested at a London ceremony. But is this the way nursing should be going?.

The Queen’s Nursing Institute says the award is to honour nurses who have ‘demonstrated a high level of commitment to patient-centred values’. But there are over 600,000 registered nurses and midwives in the UK and yet only 13 Queen’s Nurses. A nurse has more chance of winning the lottery. Of those selected, more than two-thirds were managers, clinical nurse specialists or lecturers. Less than one-third were working on the frontline of healthcare.
When I was a nursing student, my school of nursing awarded a handful of prizes each year. The ones who won were no more caring or dedicated than anyone else but they were the ones who’d got themselves noticed by the lecturers and tutors. It didn’t inspire the rest of us to work harder at our studies or strive to be better nurses but it did cause resentment.
The QNI says it wants to improve practice in community nursing. As one who has worked in the community, I know all about its low profile. Yet the community is also an area where nurses can shine.
A district or practice nurse has far more autonomy than their hospital counterparts – they can manage their own caseload and even introduce changes in practice. The community is a place with opportunities crying out for good healthcare input. We need to promote the community as a place where nurses can professionally develop and make a real difference – not as a place for those wanting a quiet life.
Community nursing has always been seen as a Cinderella service but is giving a prize to the chosen few the way to change this?

Drew Payne, nurse trainer/auditor, Infection Control Solutions Ltd, London

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