The NHS Next Stage Review has placed nursing at the heart of the health service – where it should be.
Last week’s unveiling of Lord Darzi’s vision for the NHS, reported in our news and analysis special, could not have produced a strategic direction for the health service that would better improve the status of nursing or the opportunities for individual nurses and nursing teams.
It includes measures to improve access, quality and spending on training, and a focus on quality of care rather than targets, as well as an NHS Constitution that provides healthcare workers with personal development.
The draft constitution states clearly that it is the commitment, loyalty, professionalism and dedication that really make a difference to patients’ quality of care and experience.
And these fine words are backed by specific pledges.
Six-month long preceptorships for newly qualified nurses along with a trebling of the current funding for such programmes are another good move – the profession has been calling for such programmes for over 15 years.
The NT Time Out for Training campaign has called for improvements to training and an end to the siphoning off of education budgets. The end of the MPET funding system announced in the review is the culmination of our campaign.
Nursing will also benefit from the proposed shake-up to workforce planning, which is truly abysmal. A nursing specific advisory board feeding into a new Centre of Excellence should help this.
The review urges trusts to give nurses more leadership opportunities. And staff will have more of a say in the way services are run. It strongly encourages nurses to set up community nursing bodies, proposing NHS pension portability.
But this is not enough – nurses need to gain the confidence to set up these new organisations and to do this they need to have extensive training, development and ongoing support.
Lord Darzi has done a fine job. Now is the time for nurses to grasp the opportunities he has presented with both hands.