Chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings has called on the profession to embrace change in order to meet the future needs of patients and overcome the pressures facing the health service.
In a blog to mark International Nurses Day, the CNO acknowledged that the “scale and pace of current changes undeniably bring pressures with them”.
“A profession that stands still cannot meet the challenges and demands of an ever-changing society”
But she said: “A profession that stands still cannot meet the challenges and demands of an ever-changing society.”
She highlighted that, in recent months, she had met nursing teams and individual nurses “dedicated to being adaptable and finding innovative solutions”.
In particular, she noted nurses working to help people with learning disabilities in their transition from institutional to residential care, nurses using IT to help people self-manage their conditions, and nurses working with other clinicians and community services to deliver integrated care.
“These ways of working are part of the changing health and care system,” she said. “In these demanding and pressurised instances, nurses are setting an example not only for fellow nurses but for other health and care professions.”
Ms Cummings added that effective service change would require “action on many levels” including new opportunities and responsibilities for nurses both individually and collectively in developing a “culture of health” – where prevention and supporting self-care were central.
Professor Viv Bennett
Professor Viv Bennet, chief nurse at Public Health England, also used her Nurses Day blog to promote the vital role of nurses in prevention, especially around obesity.
She highlighted that nurses had a “long history” of responding to the changing needs of society and have been at the forefront of significant improvements, such as child and maternal mortality.
She too called for a “culture of health”, warning that obesity was resulting in “rapidly and hugely” increasing incidence of illnesses, like type 2 diabetes, and early deaths.
“Nurses alongside other health care professionals have important contributions to make in the battle against obesity,” she said, adding the PHE was launching a call for professional action on obesity reduction.
She added that nurses in “all roles and in all places” continued to make a difference to prevention.
“The relationships nurses build with individual patients and families, the links with communities and the trust the population places in nurses all provide opportunities for protecting and promoting health through leadership, partnership and health promoting practice,” she said.
“Nurses have important contributions to make in the battle against obesity”
She highlighted the All our Health framework for England, which is designed to promote and support the contribution that healthcare professionals make to improve population health.
In her blog, the CNO also highlighted the Compassion in Practice strategy, which she said had demonstrated ways in which “we can and do lead change” over the last three years.
She said strategy had delivered an open and honest care programme for maternity services, a barometer for organisations to gauge their culture of care, published guidance on staffing, researched shift patterns and launched resources on how to raise concerns.
Ms Cummings added that the strategy would be built with a new national framework for nursing – called Leading Change, Adding Value – which is set to be launched later this month.
“I look forward to all the ways in which we can lead change together, and am as grateful as ever to be part of such a dynamic profession,” she said.