It is now about five weeks since the election and our new Secretary of State for Health and his Ministerial team are developing their priorities, and the policies that support them.
It is early days, but the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, has outlined his vision and plans for people who use health services, and the staff who care for and support them. He is determined to drive up standards, support professional responsibility, deliver better value for money and create a healthier nation.
I know that, as nurses and midwives, you always strive to put patients right at the centre of everything you do. I expect we would all admit that there is still more to do to ensure that there is the complete shift in power, and that the needs and expectations of our patients are met everywhere, all the time.
One of the changes that is critical is to make sure people receive the information and support they need to inform their choices - whether it is about where to have a baby, how their end of life care is provided, what sort of treatment or intervention to choose, or how to gain and maintain health and wellbeing.
Many people are able to access and analyse information without any help and support, but for some, receiving skilled and supportive guidance helps them take control of important decision
Nurses and midwives are central to making this a reality. Your support and help can often make the difference between people feeling they do not have the right information and being overloaded with too much information to make their own decisions.
The secretary of state knows that to realise his ambitions he must trust the professionals who are closest to patients and their communities. He wants to make sure that, at a time of fiscal constraint, waste is removed and efficiencies are achieved so that frontline staff are supported. I know that nurses and midwives will want to take the opportunities, as providers or commissioners of services, which this approach will provide.