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

'We need a strong leader now more than ever'

  • 11 Comments

The news last week that the chief nursing officer for England role could be realigned to sit across both NHS Improvement and NHS England when Jane Cummings departs her role could weaken nursing’s voice further at a senior level.

Hoping that doesn’t happen is not enough – the profession needs to make its voice heard on the matter.

Certainly, the move is unlikely to sit easily with the Royal College of Nursing. It has long held the belief that more senior nurses are needed in leadership roles in government arms-length bodies, not fewer. In fact, its chief executive Janet Davies made reference to this in her speech at RCN Congress earlier this month in Belfast. She has said the Department of Health and Social Care should have its own CNO to influence policy and guide ministers directly, as there is for medicine. Ms Cummings has always contended that she has sufficient influence with ministers, and that she does much behind the scenes that is not necessarily made public.

“Some might believe the profession needs more voices in ministers’ ears”

But she has also had to contend with what is considered by many trust chief nurses as the worst workforce crisis ever. And with the removal of the bursary causing a further drop in student application numbers, you can see why some might believe the profession needs more voices in ministers’ ears to articulate the profession’s contribution.

Having one senior nurse at national level might make it clearer who is in charge – and for that person to actually take charge. Many chief nurses have voiced to me that they are not sure who is leading and who they are accountable to in the current structure. While Ms Cummings has always contended that it is her as CNO, there are many who believe that NHS Improvement, as the regulator, is increasingly the body calling the shots.

“Nursing needs a strong voice and a leader who recognises that there is one hell of a challenge right here”

What nursing needs is a simplified structure with a clear chain of command. Above all else, what it needs is a strong voice and a leader who recognises that there is one hell of a challenge right here and now – and that is workforce.

While nursing directors are struggling to fill rosters and on their knees begging for staff to help them provide care, the profession doesn’t need catchy slogans or mantras. It needs practical help with recruitment and retention, and building a pipeline of new nurses coming into the healthcare space. Hopefully, the CNO’s last major project before she leaves in around six months will provide this help. This will see her lead a major new recruitment and retention campaign to coincide with 70th anniversary of NHS.

“Leaders’ voices need to be loud, strong, clear and united”

My own view is that it doesn’t really matter if the national role is either one or several. As long as the voices are loud, strong, clear and united on fixing the one issue that is most important to nursing right now. And that is making sure we have enough nurses – now and in the future.

I hope the new role or roles leading the profession can do that – because we’ve never needed it more.

  • 11 Comments

Readers' comments (11)

  • We need a leader who is prepared to support our profession not a yes man to Hunt and his various departments. This type of leadership has been sadly lacking for a LONG time and is why nursing is in a mess.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I think you've missed the point Jenni, Leadership doesn't have to be hierarchical. A single structure for the transactional functions is deeply needed. As for influencing policy, this needs to be the responsibility of a coalition of nurses and the problem we've had is relying on a single person to do this. There is a CMO at DH, but much of the medical influence on policy comes from a myriad of other sources. As for the workforce crisis (and Nursing Associates), the influence came from HEE not Jane Cummings, demonstrating the urgent need to have strategic professional nursing leadership there rather than the current operational delivery facing nurse manager

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "operational delivery facing nurse manager"

    What does this mean ??

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Far from missing the point Jenni has actually relayed the concerns of many as well as sticking her head above the parapet to document it.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • You all said this 4 years ago when I first came here!

    You need a strong leader but the trusts do not answer to the Chief Nursing Officer. They can make as many cuts as they wish and what can Jane Cummings or her replacement can do?
    What does the Chief Nursing Officer do? What is her everyday role? Is it to lead nursing? Is it to agree to government policy? Was she consulted on removing burseries and did she give her approval?

    Need to know what the role actually is and how much power it actually has.

    Love
    PDave Angel

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • your smiling, much better photo :)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • A leader to press on the NMC to amend its requirement for overseas nurses, i.e. IELTS of 6/9 overall, and 6.0 for all skills.

    To consider the costs of sitting for this test, for travelling to test sites, for preparation and also taking day offs from work.

    To consider the fact that most nurses whether in a developed or developing countries were taught in English.

    To consider that even universities do not require such a high score for Masters degree students.

    To consider that many nurses are leaving the NMC register.

    To consider that long before IELTS overseas nurses were working in the UK and perform well.

    To consider that even NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKING do not score higher or obtain band 7.0,

    What makes NMC think overseas can score higher than Native English speaking.

    Please be considerate.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I think it is right that we need a strong leader now more than ever, but I think we need strong leaders at local level more. Yes we need someone who can represent us and someone who can influence policy at government level, but nurses need direct support and leadership from senior nurses to empower them and develop a strong (albeit numerically diminished in these current times) workforce. Otherwise we are never going to see the improvements, and not in number either.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 5 June 2018

    Several issues that need action:
    1) Recruitment and retention. Nurses salary should commensurate annual inflation rate. Nurses accommodation provide descent, durable, affordable, reasonable cap on rent social and private housing.
    2) Nursing Education. Bring back nursing bursaries. Free tuition fees for nursing students. The employer should support nurses continuing education/ CPD. The amount of time the nurses spent on CPD should be paid or paid CPD day.
    3) Nurses professional registration fees. The uk gov should subsidize nurses annual professional registration fees. The taxpayer should share the cost. After all the NMC is about protecting the public. Support the Nurses for the health of the nation. Issues need solutions. Its not rocket science... its Nursing Science.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "Ms Cummings has always contended that she has sufficient influence with ministers, and that she does much behind the scenes that is not necessarily made public". What total garbage, Ms Cummings was nothing more than Jeremy Hunt's lapdog, a total waste of space, she did nothing of relevance during her time in the job and will not be missed. Better to have no one in the position than a puppet pretending to represent nurses.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 1020results per page

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.