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Nurses ‘delivering fantastic care’ despite pressures, says CNO

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England’s most senior nurse has acknowledged that staff are under “enormous pressure” but urged them to ensure their voices were heard during the current changes affecting nursing and the NHS.

Speaking at the 2016 Nursing Times Awards on Wednesday night, Jane Cummings told the audience of award finalists they should be “so proud” of themselves for the “amazing things” they had done.

“My plea to you is that you go out there and attribute the voice of nursing to everything that’s going on”

Jane Cummings

She also told them she realised the “enormous pressures” they were “facing at the moment” in the health service.

“I want to pay tribute to you for keeping going in those absolutely difficult times, those challenging times, and often when you don’t get the thanks and recognition that you deserve,” she said.

“Despite the pressures you’re facing, despite the challenges you are seeing on a day-to-day basis, you are still delivering fantastic care, and I don’t use those words lightly,” said Professor Cummings.

The CNO highlighted as an example the care given to her father before his death earlier this year.

“The care he got was phenomenal and the nurses that looked after him, and the doctors and the allied health professionals, were inspirational,” she told the audience of nurses and midwives.

“You continually demonstrate inspiring skill, you show your experience and your compassion in very, very difficult circumstances,” she said at the event held at the Grosvenor House Hotel on London’s Park Lane.

“I want to pay tribute to you for keeping going in those absolutely difficult times”

Jane Cummings

The CNO also praised the awards winners and finalists for being prepared to “stick your head above the parapet” and try and do things in a different way by innovating.

“Every one of you is a winner, every one of you is a pioneer and I’m incredibly proud of you all,” she said to loud applause.

She went on to highlighted the new national nursing framework Leading Change, Adding Value, which was published earlier this year as the follow-up to the Compassion in Practice strategy.

The CNO said leadership was a “concurrent theme throughout” the framework and that it also highlighted the impact and difference that could be made “when we bring people together”.

Chief nursing officer for England

Nurses ‘delivering fantastic care’ despite pressures, says CNO

Jane Cummings at the awards

“When we do that it is phenomenal – together we have and should make an amazing difference,” she said, but cautioned nurses not to “assume” that the public knew what they did.

“We need to be sure that we don’t just sit back and think that everyone understands what we do, don’t assume that our work and the resulting outcomes are going to be recognised,” she said.

Professor Cummings issued a call to the audience to demonstrate and celebrate the work of the nursing profession, as well as urging them to have their say in current service reforms and changes.

She said: “Really talk about how our unique value will actually make a difference going forward – actually stand up and say, look what we can do, look at the impact we as registered nurses and midwives have on patients and the public.

“You are phenomenal, you really are and we don’t take enough time to celebrate you”

Gail Adams

She added: “I know you are busy firefighting on a day-to-day basis. I know it’s really difficult, but my plea to you is that you go out there and attribute the voice of nursing to everything that’s going on at the moment.

“There is so much change happening it can look overwhelming, but actually get out there, make your point, make your voices heard and really drive the change that we know you want to see,” she said.

“Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart for everything that you do, every day, day-in-day out,” said the CNO.

“Above all take absolute pride in the difference you make to your patients, to the public you serve, your colleagues and most importantly to our really fantastic profession,” she added.

Gail Adams, the outgoing head of nursing at Unison, also gave her last ever customary speech at the event while presenting the “team of the year” award to Barts Health NHS Trust.

She highlighted that the Nursing Times Awards represented one of the few opportunities to “celebrate everything that is phenomenal about our profession”.

Unison/NT Awards 2016

Nurses ‘delivering fantastic care’ despite pressures, says CNO

Gail Adams

“You are phenomenal, you really are and we don’t take enough time to celebrate you, we don’t take enough time to recognise you and fundamentally we don’t take enough time to thank you,” she said.

“There is a lot that we need to fix, but one thing that we don’t need to fix is every single one of you because you are amazing,” said Ms Adams.

She received loud applause from the audience after referring to the annual NHS pay review process, which has just begun.

She noted that if health secretary Jeremy Hunt was at the event, she “would say to him categorically and fundamentally” that nursing staff were “worth more than” the 1% level that the government has capped pay rises at over recent years.

More news from the 2016 Nursing Times Awards:

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Readers' comments (1)

  • michael stone

    If we get:

    'I know you are busy firefighting on a day-to-day basis'

    straight from the CNO's lips, then surely the CNO is closer to stating that 'the NHS is demonstrably over-burdened [and probably under-resourced]' than she is to stating the 'weaker' 'the NHS is under pressure' ?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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