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CNO pledges to ‘fully’ represent nurses on workforce issues

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The chief nursing officer for England has pledged to ensure the interests of nurses and midwives are represented in plans to expand and reform the NHS workforce.

Dr Ruth May’s comments follow her first workforce meeting with secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock since she was appointed CNO in December last year.

“We need a collective voice and vision to influence and lead this change”

Ruth May

Earlier this month, it was confirmed that Dr May would be among a panel of experts developing the NHS workforce implementation plan.

She will chair the “future clinical workforce” group, which is set to include nursing, as well as advising the Department of Health and Social Care on nursing policy.

“I am looking forward to ensuring the interests of nurses, midwives and other care professions are represented fully as we address the workforce challenges and opportunities across the NHS,” she said.

“As set out in the long-term plan, we need a collective voice and vision to influence and lead this change,” she added, following the meeting on Tuesday 29 January.

“Their commitment and compassion makes the health service what it is today”

Matt Hancock

The health and social care secretary, who took over from Jeremy Hunt last year, said he was looking forward to working with Ms May.

“Nurses are the beating heart of our NHS and their commitment and compassion makes the health service what it is today,” he said.

“Ruth May brings a huge amount of experience to the role of chief nursing officer. She has a relentless drive to improve the working lives of our dedicated nurses and ultimately to ensure patients are receiving the very highest standards of care.”

He confirmed Ms May would be advising him directly on “all aspects of nursing policy”.

“I have asked Ruth to be at the table as we tackle the issues facing nurses at this crucial time for the NHS, drawing on her invaluable experience to advise me directly on all aspects of nursing policy,” he said.

Dame Donna Kinnair, the Royal College of Nursing’s acting chief executive and general secretary, said: “The news that Ruth May will be giving the secretary of state direct advice on the nursing workforce and its valuable contribution takes the profession in the right direction and we welcome it.

“The RCN believes that removing the CNO nursing role from the department was a grave error that has left political leaders exposed and without independent advice on nursing and healthcare assistants, who are the largest workforce in the NHS,” she added. 

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