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OPINION

Jane Cummings and Viv Bennett: 'Use International Nurses’ Day to give thanks to the profession'

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Let’s celebrate and be proud of our profession’s achievements, say Jane Cummings and Viv Bennett

The theme for International Nurses’ Day 2014 looks at nurses’ responsibilities, opportunities to improve health and the need for sufficient, highly skilled nurses worldwide to ensure quality outcomes. This resonates strongly with work set out in Compassion in Practice and in the national and local implementation of the 6Cs and the six action areas. It also builds on developing public health nursing via the new “personalised care and population health” programme.

International Nurses’ Day gives us the chance to celebrate all we have done and look forward to continue collaborating to meet the many care challenges. The International Council of Nurses sets out the need for disease prevention, health promotion, a shift in community-based primary healthcare, the effective use of technology and to refocus on holistic care - namely person-centred care and a life-course approach. We have much to be proud of in the UK and recently had the highest number of exceptional practice case studies accepted for the World Health Organization’s Europe compendium of good practice.

“We have much to be proud of in the UK”

The 6Cs - initiated by Jane Cummings and developed by nurses and midwives in England until their launch in December 2012 - are seen as descriptors of the values and behaviours needed by health and care workers. When Compassion in Practice: One Year On was published last year, we were inundated with examples of great practice and stories of how the 6Cs had made a difference. One came from Rick Bolton of Lancashire, who blogged about what each of the Cs meant to him and his son Issac, who needs constant care. The 6Cs are also promoted by our 1,000 Care Makers, who are true ambassadors and provide a fabulous network across England. The 6Cs and Care Makers are being rolled out everywhere and in all professions.

We have demonstrated nurses’ ability to embrace the 6Cs in all settings, focus on prevention and promote patients’ health and wellbeing. Nurses are leading in many areas on “making every contact count”. There is strong evidence of the importance of a good start for children and at the forefront of this change are health visitors and school nurses. Learning disability nurses have developed as patient needs have changed, and they are using the Health Equalities Framework to identify health inequalities to close the gap in delivering care. Mental health nurses continue to improve the standards of physical as well as mental health: they support and promote physical and mental health wellbeing to help reduce premature mortality.

Nurses are working with older people in their homes, care and hospital settings. They are leading the way with their work on dementia care and challenging stigma, discrimination, ageism and stereotypes to promote prevention and deliver person-centred care. They are key to protecting patients’ health. Such a commitment was made by thousands of nurses on NHS Change Day, when they pledged to act to make this work and contribution more visible and to improve patients’ quality of care.

We are making progress. There is the £100m Nursing Technology Fund and an active cross-sector community nursing development programme as part of NHS England’s leadership of integrated care and primary care strategy. We are privileged to lead nurses in England and be able to see the amazing work done to deliver high-quality care for everyone in all healthcare settings. International Nurses’ Day gives us the chance to say thank you, celebrate and be proud of our profession’s achievements. We look forward to continuing our work with those who are the “force for change” in care and health - nurses.

Jane Cummings is chief nursing officer for England; Viv Bennett is director of nursing at the Department of Health and Public Health England

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