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EXPERT OPINION

'In Scotland we are embracing a new future for nursing'

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The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book waiting to be written…

There’s poignancy for me about Christmas and New Year.

The festivities and joyousness that some people feel; but yet not shared by all. The struggle that many people experience – whether it’s patients or nurses – is often hidden behind a gloss of festivity. A time to look back as well as to look forward.

By any account, 2015 has been a momentous year for the profession.

”The piloting of revalidation and the NMC’s decision to go live must surely be one of the most significant in recent history for us”

The piloting of revalidation and the NMC’s decision to go live must surely be one of the most significant in recent history for us. And not only this, but also the intention to remove supervision of midwives from statute has encouraged us to reflect on what we want to keep from supervision and how that has supported practice to flourish.

Numbers of nurses, student bursaries, new roles for support workers… the list is endless.

From a Scottish perspective, I believe that the future is bright for the professions. In Scotland we are embracing a new future:

  • Revalidation going live
  • Preparing for midwifery supervision without the restraint of statute
  • A new GP contract that will support a change in the way primary care services are delivered providing opportunities for nursing roles to flourish and improve care
  • Health and Social Care Partnerships becoming fully fledged with Integrated Joint Boards (IJBs) going live in April
  • A National Clinical Strategy that will provide guidance for development of services in Scotland that will be truly sustainable
  • The output of the review of bursaries for nurses and midwives in Scotland.

All against a backcloth of a Scottish Budget (which at time of writing hasn’t been published) that is likely to be very tight, and like the other devolved administrations, we also have elections in May which will colour the way the media covers health issues.

So what of the above list will affect practitioners in their day to day lives? Arguably, all of it.

”It is essential that nurses and midwives are supported to deliver care and improve health”

Regardless of how tight the financial situation, it is essential that nurses and midwives are supported to deliver care and improve health in an environment that supports them to do so safely and effectively.

And with sufficient resources and safe staffing levels.

Leadership at all levels in the profession has never been so essential. Safe, effective person centred care can only be delivered if we are to embrace the future and find new paths.

Revalidation gives us a wonderful opportunity to embrace reflective practice and improve care. Care delivered closer to patients’ homes and in an integrated environment allows us to truly develop services around people and their loved ones.

Changes to the way clinical services are delivered – either as a consequence of changes to our strategic approach or a shortage of doctors – gives the profession a wonderful opportunity to embrace new roles and improve outcomes.

However all of this must be underpinned by evidence, as far as we can.

”We must gather evidence and evaluate the impact of revalidation on practice”

The evidence around the impact of graduate level education for nurses on improved outcomes for patients cannot be forgotten when testing new roles. We must gather evidence and evaluate the impact of revalidation on practice.

Nursing schools within universities have an ever important role to play in helping us shape our future, not only by producing our nursing graduates – and in Scotland they do a wonderful job in that field - but also in helping us find our way to new models of care and a new future that is underpinned by evidence and research, so that we can confidently move forwards as a profession fit for the future.

With best wishes for a peaceful Christmas and fulfilling New Year to all. And particular thanks to nurses and midwives who are continuing to deliver care throughout this festive time.

Fiona McQueen, Chief Nursing Officer for Scotland

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