Nurses need more help to become healthy role models, the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery in England has been told.
The commission listened to the views of staff and patients from around the country at an event in London, where discussions focussed on 10 themes including improving the health and wellbeing of nurses and midwives.
Speaking after the private event, health minister and commission chair Ann Keen told Nursing Times there had been a “clear consensus” that staff wanted managers to help them with their own physical and mental health.
She said: “They certainly wanted to see that nurses and midwives have proper breaks, that they have got support for their own health.
“They were concerned that they were role models of health and the pressures of that - that they should have really good health themselves, recognising they’re human beings.”
In addition to demanding proper breaks, staff at the event wanted workplaces to provide good occupational health services, appropriate training and fitness facilities.
Not all staff related to the statement in the commission’s vision calling nurses and midwives “ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” Ms Keen said.
But she stood by the phrase, saying: “Becoming a nurse was the hardest test I’ve ever done…I don’t know of any other group that actually gives that extent of themselves.”
She did not think the list of hot topics or the wording of the vision statement would need to be adjusted in light of the event, but said the other commissioners may disagree.
“I still think we’re definitely on the right track,” she said.
The commission was due to meet on Friday, two days after the event was held.
The Queen’s Nursing Institute practice development manager Anne Pearson said the discussions appeared to back up findings from a survey carried out by the institute last year.
The survey showed levels of health and stress among nurses were mainly affected by the way employees were managed and supported, rather than the demands of the job.
Ms Pearson said: “Sometimes we’re our own worst enemies because we tend to do all we can for our patients but we need to look after ourselves too.
“It’s about cooperation between managers and staff, to try to identify potential problems and address them.”