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Francis response: Split CNO role to be kept under review

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The government has agreed to keep the new structure for the most senior nursing roles in England under review.

As part of its reconfiguration of the NHS, the government split the traditional chief nursing officer for England role into two – with one CNO post based with NHS England and a director of nursing with responsibility for public health at the Department of Health.

At present the NHS England CNO is Jane Cummings and the DH director of nursing is Professor Viv Bennett.

In February the Francis report said “effectiveness of the newly positioned office” of CNO should be kept under review.

It said this should be done to ensure the maintenance of a “recognised leading representative of the nursing profession as a whole, able and empowered to give independent professional advice to the government on nursing issues of equivalent authority to that provided by the chief medical officer”.

In its response to the Francis response today, the government said it accepted this recommendation.

“The effectiveness of the chief nursing officer role will be reviewed on an on-going basis,” it stated. 

The government’s full response to the Francis report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust was published today.

In its response report – Hard Truths: the journey to putting patients first – the government has accepted 281 of the 290 recommendations made by the Francis report in February. 

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