The recent changes at Public Health England and the Department of Health could be an opportunity for nursing to strengthen its voice.
In the last few weeks, Professor Viv Bennett, who was director of nursing at the Department of Heath, has moved to a new role heading up nursing at Public Health England. Meanwhile, David Foster, her former deputy at the DH, is leading a new nursing and midwifery policy unit at the department and will continue to work closely with the chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings.
Having a senior nursing lead at PHE is excellent news for public health. This is an area where nurses can make a huge contribution to achieving the ambition of the Five Year Forward View. The focus is where it should be - keeping people well, rather than treating them when they become sick.
“Having a senior nursing lead at PHE is excellent news for public health”
Giving nursing a strong voice in this arena can bring about tangible, positive change in the health of the nation, and ensure that NHS services face less demand in the future.
At last it seems the government is recognising that an investment in nursing will give you an almost certain return.
In his report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust in 2013, Sir Robert Francis QC voiced concerns about the division of England’s senior nursing role in 2012. He felt that splitting it in two, moving some responsibilities from the Department of Health to NHS England could dilute the standing and impact of the role.
He recommended this division be kept under review because having one role would give it equivalent authority to the chief medical officer, the post held by Sir Bruce Keogh.
“We need to ensure Sir Robert’s concerns are heeded”
We need to ensure Sir Robert’s concerns are heeded and that nursing does not lose its voice now or after the general election.
We must ensure that the chief nursing officer for England’s voice, power and infl uence (and those of the other CNOs in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) are not allowed to dwindle, and that they are equal to their medical colleagues post-election.
“Nursing needs leaders who can navigate a sensible course through potentially rough waters”
Revalidation, continuing winter pressures, changes in midwifery supervision, pay and staff shortages will continue to be the biggest issues for most nurses and midwives in the coming year - and nursing needs leaders who can navigate a sensible course through these potentially rough waters.
Nurses are the right people to steer the profession through these changes, but we need to make sure everyone is listening to them.
Jenni Middleton, editor
firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed