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Jane Cummings launches bid to retain nursing staff, protect nurse title and end 'PJ paralysis'


The chief nursing officer for England has announced a “major” new recruitment and retention campaign for the profession today along with ambitions to legally protect the job title nurse, as part of plans to mark the health service’s landmark 70th year.

The new recruitment and retention campaign will spotlight the “enormous contribution” of nurses and midwives in the health service now and over the last seven decades, said NHS England.

“A career in modern nursing and midwifery has never been more rewarding”

Jane Cummings

It will also look at the wide ranging career opportunities in the 21st century NHS in a “drive to recruit and retain more nurses and midwives into the profession”, stated the national body.

The new campaign, to be run in conjunction with other national organisations, forms part of a package of measures announced in a speech by Professor Jane Cummings at her annual summit.

In her opening speech at the event, she said: “We need to look at what it is we need to do to retain staff – is it culture, environment or other things?”

She told delegate there was a “need to test different interventions to support clinical team leaders” on staff retention, with work on this area set to be launched later in the spring.

She added that four senior nurses were working together collaboratively on these interventions, including Dr Jacqueline McKenna, director of nursing, and professional leadership at NHS Improvement.

“What will remain constant is the need in our society for extraordinary people who want to care for others”

Jane Cummings

Other measures unveiled by the CNO in Liverpool today include 165 new “nursing and midwifery ambassadors” intended to boost the “image and perception” of nursing and midwifery.

The ambassadors will spearhead a campaign to promote nursing as a career choice including visiting schools, said NHS England. A conference will take place in Liverpool on the 7 and 8 March attended by the new nursing and midwifery ambassadors.

They will be “key to engaging with the public, particularly young people”, according to NHS England, which said they would seek to help “change the perceptions and promote the profession”.

Steps will also be taken to try and protect the title “nurse” in law in the same way that paramedic and dietitian are, in order to remove “confusion and provide added reassurance” to patients.

Professor Cummings will work with the three chief nursing officers from the other UK countries to review options for a legal change to ensure only those registered as a nurse can use this professional title.

It follows a study published in 2017 by Professor Alison Leary that revealed “variation in job titles within the nursing workforce”, especially relating to advanced roles and support staff.

It found a significant number of staff working in the NHS were using job titles that included “nurse”, despite not having the relevant education and skills or being a registered nurse.

Meanwhile, as reported yesterday, a 70-day nationwide campaign to end “pyjamas paralysis” will be launched to give back patients one million days of time that would otherwise be wasted in bed.

Speaking at her annual summit today, Professor Cummings will say: “The shape of the UK’s future workforce is changing and people today will have job choices in areas that may as yet not even exist.

“But what will remain constant is the need in our society for extraordinary people who want to care for others,” she will say.

“A career in modern nursing and midwifery has never been more rewarding, offering a huge range of opportunities for talented people,” she will tell delegates.

“But what remains the same in 2018 as in 1948 when the NHS was founded, is the passion to provide expert care for those in need,” the CNO will say.

“We have a huge task on our hands to recruit and retain the next generation of nurses”

Janet Davies

She will add: “We want to highlight through this new campaign that nursing and midwifery provides the opportunity not only for an outstanding career, but the chance to have a profound and direct impact on the lives of thousands and thousands of people in a way that simply can’t be matched.”

Responding to the new nursing recruitment drive announced today by Professor Cummings, Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “This campaign is a welcome focus on promoting nursing and we would be delighted to work with the CNO on this in England.

“We must do anything we can do to attract people to the profession and shake off outdated perceptions of nursing,” she said. “However, we have a huge task on our hands to recruit and retain the next generation of nurses when the current workforce is shrinking.

janet davies

janet davies

Janet Davies

“Nurses have always been at the heart of the NHS and, in its 70th year, we need to show the nurses of tomorrow they can have fantastic careers that are full of opportunity,” said Ms Davies.

Also welcoming the possibility of legally protecting the title nurse, she said: “It is important that the role and professionalism of registered nurses is protected and we welcome and support NHS England’s plans to protect the title “nurse” in law.”

Lasty, she added: “On the pyjama paralysis ambition, putting an end to this is a step in the right direction. The evidence shows that getting patients up and dressed speeds up their recovery – enabling them to leave hospital at the earliest opportunity and preventing avoidable further deteriorating.”


Readers' comments (7)

  • PJ Paralysis has nothing to do with nurse retention. Removal of the bursary has a lot to do with it as well as poor wages but no mention of either by Ms Cummings. Is there any wonder nurses are leaving in droves when the chief nurse is unable to be honest about the problem.

    As for legalising the title of nurse will this apply to "nurse" associates"?
    I hope not.

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  • Absolutely agree. Didn’t Jane get a nice pay rise......

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  • I see the MP,s are getting another pay rise. It’s about time they gave us one. 10% would be ideal with no change to the Enhancements either. But sadly I do not think this will happen.

    We are overworked - more and more paperwork, not enough staff to look after the patients properly, I could go on. When will this government listen and I have to say any government. The health secretary should be someone who has had the experience as a nurse in order to deliver the appropriate plan for the future. I expect the chief nurse has not worked on the ward for years.

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  • I have been an NA , HCA, HCSW, MHSW , etc for 12 years. I am many other of my colleagues are eager to progress and do our Nurse training , however now secondment opportunities and bursaries have been scrapped it seems like a big leap of faith when you have a family to support and a home to run!

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  • Basically, this is a load of rubbish. The real problem is not about improving the image of nursing and midwifery but about paying us a decent salary and bringing back the bursary. Jane Cummings has completely skirted the real issues here. Rather than employing 165 'nursing and midwifery ambassadors', why not invest this money into training new nurses? It's the most ridiculous thing I've heard in a long time.

    As for PJ paralysis, this has nothing to do with nurse retention but more to do with the fact that many patients are exhausted from lack of sleep due to noise on the wards. They are so exhausted during the day, it's no wonder they stay in their pyjamas. Lack of sleep is debilitating at the best of times. I speak form experience as a patient. It was exhausting and I was so glad to go home to recover.

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  • Notice she made no mention of the crappy pay...

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  • No mention of crappy pay because she is getting the highest pay so why bother about it. Selfish creation!

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