In the 199th year since Florence Nightingale’s birth, it is appropriate that the Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) celebrates International Nurses Day 2019 with this article.
2020 will be a momentous year in nursing and midwifery worldwide, with national and international Florence Nightingale 2020 Partners planning high-profile events to take place throughout the bicentenary year, across the UK and the world, from her birth place to her resting place. The FNF will also host an international conference for 5,000 nurses and midwives (26-28 October 2020) in London.
The FNF acknowledges that the most urgent issue facing nursing and midwifery is the severe shortage of registered staff. In 2017, more nurses and midwives (27%) left the Nursing and Midwifery Council register than joined, with poor access to continuing professional development cited as a reason. We are delighted that, last month, NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens announced at Ruth May’s first Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) for England’s Summit, a “personal guarantee” to restore the previously slashed funding for CPD.
The FNF plays its part in the professional development and retention of the nursing and midwifery workforce. Since 1929, it has inspired, nurtured and supported senior and mid-career nurses and midwives to stay in the professions they love, improve health and care outcomes, and change policy and practice. Providing these leadership development opportunities is essential but over 100,000 registered nurses and midwives are aged 21-30 years and most 21-25-year-olds are newly registered. They have an informal leadership role, unassociated with any given position. They are leaders at the point of care – they are accountable for, and oversee, the completion of patient care as well as directly leading and managing the provision of safe patient care. The generational concepts identified in the Mind the Gap workforce planning report require consideration to appropriately support those as they begin their professional careers. Generation Y nurses and midwives (born 1980-1995), have high expectations and are very career motivated. They need to see a clear pathway of progression and be supported though personal development.
From last year – coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the NHS, the arrival of Empire Windrush, and the Queen Alexandra Royal Army Nursing Corps, and 100 years of learning disability nursing – the FNF agreed to invest in the leadership development of early-career nurses and midwives. It partnered with the NHS to provide leadership learning opportunities for over 250 such individuals, including 110 from the NHS in London, 30 from the Midlands and East, 70 nurses and midwives from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups, and 40 learning disability nurses. QARANC also invested in the leadership development of 10 British Army nurses.
I have been involved in the leadership journey of each one of these 260 nurses and midwives, and very much enjoyed their excitement and motivation to be the best they can be.
I am also grateful for my learning. I now understand the little-understood work of learning disability nurses and what a force they are to ensure people with a learning disability have the care they so rightly deserve. These nurses and midwives have such enthusiasm, are ambassadors for our profession – one day, some will become chief nurses or a CNO. They are Florence Nightingale’s legacy.
Greta Westwood is chief operating officer at the Florence Nightingale Foundation