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A time of celebration and reflection…

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Professor Jean White, CNO for Wales, thanks all staff for thier hard work this year and discusses the changes ahead

Welsh CNO

Jean White

Like many people I find the turning of the year a time for celebration with friends and family and a time to reflect. I think it is important that we step off our daily treadmill of activity and pause to consider what is happening in our world and what part we and other health workers play in it.

If we only think about the headline news stories, which are quite frankly scary and disturbing: terrorism, forced migration due to conflict, flooding, mass shootings, it is a wonder any of us leave the house.

However, if we just pause for a moment longer we will also see stories of kindness, compassion and bravery that fill us with joy as well, just think of our colleagues who bravely went to help defeat the terrible outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.

I attend many awards ceremonies during the year and get to meet wonderful inspirational nurses, midwives, support staff and volunteers to see them be recognised for their achievements.

”I was moved to tears at one ceremony where a volunteer in his 80s was recognised for nearly a decade of work”

I was moved to tears at one ceremony where a volunteer in his 80s was recognised for nearly a decade of work maintaining the gardens around the palliative care unit where his wife had sadly passed away.

He did it to thank the staff for caring for them both. It was right and proper that people noticed and cared enough to say thank you publicly to him and the other volunteers for their selfless acts.

There are so many of our colleagues who go that extra mile for their patients and fellow workers. It makes me proud to be a nurse.

So what are my highlights this year?

”There are so many of our colleagues who go that extra mile for their patients and fellow worker”

Well in terms of the profession we have seen the introduction of a revised Code, agreement of a new model of revalidation and agreement to end statutory midwifery supervision that is likely to come in during 2017. These affect professionals UK wide and work in each country is underway to address the changes.

Here in Wales we have also taken the opportunity to consult on potential future legislation (Green paper: Our health, our health service) to drive quality and governance in the NHS, which included asking whether we should legislate for clinical supervision for all health professionals. Taken together these developments indicate that proper attention is being paid to what makes a nurse or midwife a professional, particularly relevant as we consider how we should develop supporting or new health roles.

Workforce challenges have remained topical throughout the year, with many news stories highlighting the implications of the international problem of healthcare worker shortages. In Wales there is currently a Bill on nurse staffing that is going through the stages on its way to become a law, should this succeed, it will be a first in the UK.

”Healthcare support staff are a hugely important part of the workforce”

Healthcare support staff are a hugely important part of the workforce and are essential to the delivery of care. To ensure proper support and governance this year Wales introduced a national NHS Wales Skills and Career Framework for Healthcare Support Staff and has established new national guidance to enable support staff to safely administer medicines. These build on the existing Codes of Conduct and Practice and induction training standards already in use.

For the last five years Wales has had an Advanced Practice Framework in place and I was delighted that we achieved full compliance with the standards in May this year. Advanced practitioners are going to become increasingly important to the health system in future as more services are led not by doctors but by highly educated and skilled health professionals.

So what of the future?

Yes, we have challenges ahead, public finances are tight and demand is growing, but I prefer to think of them as opportunities.

As Wales gets to grip with the paradigm shift needed to embrace the four principles of Prudent Healthcare, now the core driver for health policy in the country, I see opportunities for nurse and midwives to step to the fore and ensure patients get high quality, safe, person-centred care, that is evidence based and co-produced to meet their needs. These are indeed exciting but challenging times.

I wish you every joy and happiness for this Christmas and New Year. Thank you all for your hard work and dedication.

Professor Jean White, Chief Nursing Officer for Wales

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