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England's first two joint regional chief nurses unveiled


The first two appointments in a series of new joint regional chief nurse posts have been announced today by NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Sue Doheny has been confirmed as regional chief nurse for the South of England, and will start on 1 September. Meanwhile, Professor Oliver Shanley will be chief nurse for London.

“They will be able to co-ordinate and lead our professions in their regions”

Jane Cummings

The two organisations said the aim was to provide “clear joint leadership and greater collaboration” between them in order to “ensure delivery of strategic aims and ultimately better care for patients”.

They said the two appointments will be expected to provide professional leadership to all members of the nursing and midwifery professions in their region, bringing “greater clarity for frontline staff”.

The roles will “discharge the regulatory and statutory functions” for which both organisations are accountable, added the statement from NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Ms Doheny, who trained in Cardiff and has a background in community nursing, has held a number of senior roles within NHS England’s previous regional structure.

“It will build on the support we provide to the nursing community”

Ruth May

These include director of nursing and quality for NHS England’s Arden, Herefordshire and Worcester Area Team and more recently director of nursing with NHS England West Midlands.

She said: “I am delighted to be taking up this new role working with the nursing and midwifery teams both at NHS England South and at NHS Improvement South.

“I hope that by having a single professional nursing and midwifery leader for the region we will be able to work more closely together for the benefit of both organisations and for the benefit of patients,” she added.

Mr Shanley, a mental health nurse by background, was most recently deputy chief executive and chief nurse at Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust.

He said: “‘I am thrilled to have been appointed to the role of regional chief nurse for London. It is a fantastic opportunity to promote nurses and midwives and ensure we continue to deliver high quality care whilst being at the forefront of continuous improvements across the NHS.”

Dr Ruth May, executive director of nursing for NHS Improvement and deputy chief nursing officer for England, said: “These joint appointments will strengthen our ability to provide great nursing leadership across London and the South.

“It will build on the support we provide to the nursing community and to the wider NHS on the important role that nursing care plays in the health service. I look forward to working with Sue and Oliver,” she said.

Professor Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England, also welcomed the two joint appointments.

NHS England

Nurses able to ‘measure impact’ of new framework

Jane Cummings l

She said: “I am very pleased at this new approach to joint chief nurse roles and we have appointed two very experienced health professionals.

“They will be able to co-ordinate and lead our professions in their regions, working closely with me as CNO, Ruth May and [deputy CNO] Hilary Garratt and enable us to develop our response to the challenges ahead,” she said.

Ms Doheny has been acting in the role as chief nurse for the Southern region since 25 July, but solely for NHS England and not jointly with the regulator NHS Improvement. She replaced Sarah Elliott who left NHS England South on 1 July.

Similarly, Jane Clegg has been acting in the role of chief nurse for London under NHS England’s previous regional nursing director structure, which was separate from NHS Improvement.

She replaced Caroline Alexander in the role, who joined Barts Health NHS Trust in January as its new chief nurse.

Lynne Wigens is currently chief nurse for NHS England Midlands and East under the old structure, while Margaret Kitching is chief nurse for NHS England North.

The new regional joint chief nurse posts for the North, and Midlands and East are yet to be announced.

NHS England is responsible for overseeing commissioning but also has a statutory role in planning and funding health services. In addition, it sets the priorities and direction of the NHS in England.

Meanwhile, the regulator NHS Improvement – formed earlier this year from the merger of Monitor and the Trust Development Authority – is responsible for overseeing health service trusts, as well as independent providers that provide NHS-funded care.


Their CVs: the new regional chief nurses

Sue Doheny

Sue has been a board level director in the NHS for over nine years. Her clinical director roles have been in provider and commissioning organisations across different health and social care economies. Sue started her nursing career in London following her training in Cardiff.

Following the birth of her first daughter she moved to Herefordshire to work as a community nurse in intermediate care and then worked in the West Midlands in various roles.

Oliver Shanley

Oliver has most recently been deputy chief executive and director of quality and safety (chief nurse) at Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, where he has been in post for seven years. This is one of the country’s largest and most complex mental health and learning disability Trusts, providing services to four counties.

He has worked at an executive director level for twelve years, is a visiting professor at the University of Hertfordshire, and is a registered mental health nurse (RMN), having started his nursing career in 1990.

His considerable experience and skills are underpinned by a strong commitment to nursing, quality, and improving clinical practice. Oliver was awarded his OBE for services to mental health and learning disability in 2016.


Readers' comments (5)

  • Another load of money down the drain then....

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  • It reads like a glorification of these two like they're career paths are something to be aspired to. People who seek positions of power are least fit as leaders as they are driven by their own egos/desire to dominate/money etc. Reluctant leaders is what we need. Some passionate, tuned in nurse who has been in the trenches for 2 decades, with no desire to climb the greasy pole, yet is staunchly committed to doing the right thing. Find them, and parachute them into this roles. Otherwise the continuation of these 'leaders' who talk the talk but actually work against all of our interests will persist. As this isn't going to happen we need to organise ourselves and push for change from the ground up (this is where unions typically step in). Any suggestions in their absent is welcome!

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  • Also apologies for very sloppy writing! Must proofread before sending

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  • I agree and I think the reason those of us in the trenches (I've done over three decades) will never get parachuted in is because you have to go through that management route like Oliver Shanley.

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  • Too many "Chiefs" and not enough Indians................

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