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'Today I feel as proud to be a nurse as when I qualified more than 30 years ago'

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Following my CNO Summit, and as we enter the Christmas period, I have been reflecting on some of the lessons and key changes that will impact all of us in our profession.

Jane Cummings

Jane Cummings

Earlier this year I spent a week volunteering as a nurse at a camp for children with serious illnesses.

One of the thank-you letters the charity received from parents read, “we wanted to write and express our deep gratitude for what you gave back to our two children; self-belief, confidence, joy and independence.”

Reading this made me as proud to be a nurse as when I qualified more than 30 years ago, and is the experience of nurses and midwives every day.

”It reminded me of the importance of seeing the whole person”

It reminded me of the importance of seeing the whole person, their individual needs, and personalising care and support which takes this into account. The increasing emphasis on promoting health improvement, wellbeing, behaviour change, self-care, and support to enable people to live in their own homes and in communities is a vital role for our profession.

I have also reflected on the scale, depth and variety of work undertaken by nurses and midwives, which is astounding. There are no areas of life that we are not involved in. Nurses and midwives are working at the heart of research, education, commissioning, safeguarding and policy development as well as delivering care and support.

”Nurses and midwives are working at the heart of research, education, commissioning, safeguarding and policy development”

We are constantly learning, improving, adapting and creating, and should set an example to other professions in terms of how we can learn from each other, support each other, understand each other’s pressures and use our strengths to work together towards solutions that benefit patients and their families.

We should use these skills and strengths as we deliver the vision and challenges set out in the Five Year Forward View.

At the same time we also need to make sure we look after our own health and wellbeing, physical and mental, and that of our colleagues.

Another area where nurses and midwives have played to their strengths in 2015 is in the growing and important areas of working with patients, listening to them and learning from them as co-leaders, agents for change, and experts by experience.

A recent example showing we are moving in the right direction is the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) national survey of 20,000 pregnant women. The responses indicate women have had positive experiences as a result of being first seen by a midwife, being offered a midwife-led unit and always being spoken to in a way that is understood.

”The health and care system is no stranger to change, and neither are our professions”

Midwifery saw a historic change in 2015, by agreeing to separate midwifery supervision and regulation. The health and care system is no stranger to change, and neither are our professions, but for change to be genuine and lasting it needs to focus on and be relevant to patients’ safety and experience.

The coming months will see the conclusion of the three-year ‘Compassion in Practice’ strategy, and will bring with it opportunities to reflect on what it has delivered; among others, the development of an open and honest care programme for maternity services, a barometer for organisations to gauge their culture of care, published guidance on staffing, researched shift patterns, launched resources on how to raise concerns, and established the 6Cs as a strong foundation of values on which we can proudly build.

This will pave the way for the launch of a follow-on strategy in the coming months, under the working title of ‘Our Vision’, after an extensive engagement exercise.

”I encourage you to see the revalidation requirements as a positive opportunity”

2016 will also see the introduction of revalidation. I encourage you to see the revalidation requirements as a positive opportunity to show how you are making continuous improvements in the quality and safety of care, and to support your ongoing development. The revalidation exercise will enable us all to give this the thought and time it deserves. By preparing well, collecting evidence and reflecting on your practice and continuous professional development, you will see benefits for you, your colleagues and patients.

My hope for 2016 is that nurses and midwives will loudly and proudly celebrate and share what is being done well, what we stand for, and the impact we are privileged to make every day while taking the lead in improving care and delivering the transformation needed across all health and care sectors.

Thank you for all you are doing and in particular those working over the holiday period, which can be a difficult time for many people.

I wish you all well and best wishes for Christmas and New Year.

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