Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


'New leaders can ensure nursing’s voice is heard'

  • 1 Comment

The final piece of the Department of Health nursing jigsaw puzzle fell into place last week with the announcement that Jane Cummings is taking on the chief nursing role on the NHS Commissioning Board.

She’ll join Professor Viv Bennett, who, as director of nursing in the DH, is spearheading the government’s public health ambitions, with David Foster acting as deputy director, and overseeing workforce, education and research.

Nursing needs this structure to work and provide a powerful profile. Concerns have been raised about the dilution of the CNO’s influence under the reforms. It is down to these incumbents to prove them wrong.

Professor Bennett’s to-do list includes improving the nation’s health and advising the government how to do that. It’s a timely role, but hard to prove its success. After all, how do you measure health problems that have been prevented?

Ms Cummings is expected to become the lead nurse figure for nursing. And that is exactly what is needed – ambassadors who will speak up for nurses when the chips are down. The nursing voice has been all but inaudible while we’ve been waiting for this structure.

General secretary and chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing Peter Carter has been admirably juggling media balls and representing nurses on pensions, dignity reports, CQC findings and issues arising from Mid Staffs. If he’d had a tachometer measuring how much airtime he’d clocked up on Radio 4’s Today programme and Newsnight et al, he’d probably have to take the next nine months off. He must be glad of the new DH appointments.

It was fantastic to see Professor Bennett speaking up about school nurses recently. Let’s keep this momentum up. The profession needs credible nurses to represent those walking the wards or caring in the community. Someone needs to lead nursing through the stormy waters ahead: the Francis report, changes in the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the new NHS landscape, as well as the erosion of district nurse numbers, which could seriously damage care provision, something Nursing Times has been highlighting to the government and the profession in recent weeks.
Politicians spend half an hour in a hospital and believe they can magically transform nursing. They can’t. The profession needs real experts, people who have been nurses, managed nurses and who talk to nurses every day to advise on excellent care, improve the profession’s standing and restore the public’s confidence in nursing.

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • Well, we will soon know if they are worth any respect, won't we? The first sign of any ambiguity will show how useless they are. I need a tough leader, who is prepared to face up to government (whatever flavour).

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs