The NHS Commissioning Board has appointed Jane Cummings as its chief nursing officer. Ms Cummings is currently the nursing director for NHS North of England, and previously for NHS North West.
The commissioning board CNO is expected to become the lead nurse figure for the English NHS. It is one of two new senior nursing roles created under the government’s reform plans.
Commissioning board chief executive Sir David Nicholson said: “Jane is well known and respected throughout the NHS and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise, coupled with extensive clinical and managerial experience.
“As a clinically-led organisation, this is a vital role and I’m delighted that Jane is joining the Board to provide outstanding clinical and professional leadership to the nursing and midwifery professions and drive forward quality improvements and better outcomes for patients.”
Ms Cummings said: “I am absolutely delighted… It is an enormous privilege to become the professional lead for nurses and midwives in England and I am looking forward to working with them to further improve the quality of care and patient experience for the patients we serve.”
She has led work in the North and nationally to develop the indicators of quality and efficiency of nursing care, and publication of results.
She said: “To be a nurse or midwife is an amazing role; supporting patients and their families when they are at their most vulnerable and when clinical expertise, care and compassion matter most. I am proud to be a part of the future of nursing in England and look forward to supporting and developing the profession in the future.”
A commissioning board statement said a “core role” of the CNO would be “to drive quality improvements in patient safety and patient experience”.
The post was advertised with an indicative base salary of £165,000.
The chief nursing officer for England Dame Christine Beasley retired last year. The post has been replaced by the commissioning board CNO post and a nursing director in the Department of Health, to which former deputy CNO Viv Bennett has been appointed.
Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said: “We warmly welcome Jane Cummings into her new role as the chief nursing officer on the NHS Commissioning Board.
“We have enjoyed an excellent relationship with Jane in her previous role as chief nurse for the North of England and look forward to building on this. We welcome the fact that Jane will be looking at improvements in patient safety and patient experience as these are also key issues for our members especially at a time when the NHS has to make savings of £20bn in England alone.
“The NHS is currently going through a period of unprecedented change, so it is vital that it has strong leadership in place to steer it through these challenges. The RCN has continually highlighted the importance of the nursing voice and nurse leadership at the top of the new NHS system and we are confident that Jane will fulfil this brief.”
Unison also welcomed the appointment of Ms Cummings, saying it had a “long established history of working with” her both regionally and nationally.
Unison head of nursing Gail Adams said: “This job is so big it can be seen from space. Unison will be working closely with Jane to ensure that priorities are put in place that make a significant difference to patients and the nurses who devote their lives to caring for them.
“Jane’s clinical back ground in emergency care and extensive roles in management will be put to the test in this new appointment and we look forward to working with her.”
The Royal College of Midwives’ chief executive and general secretary Cathy Warwick said: “We welcome the appointment of Jane as the new CNO. We hope that she will bring her breadth of frontline experience to the role and we look forward to working with her in the future.”