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'We must nurture the potential of nurses'

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This week feels like an opportunity, a chance for nurse leaders to take control of some of the problems facing the profession and plot a course through some challenging times.

The chief nursing officer for England is due to unveil her new national nursing framework, Leading Change, Adding Value (see the story here). If we are to believe the rumours, developing a successor to Compassion in Practice has been a tough nut to crack. As Jane Cummings told Nursing Times in an interview ahead of the launch, the previous strategy was about “restoring pride and respect” in the profession after high-profile knocks like the Francis report. The new framework is about pushing on and encouraging nurses to lead change.

Ms Cummings and her team have arrived at 10 commitments surrounded by a wider set of aims linked to other policies and strategies. The commitments are laudable in ambition but will need to be adopted and driven by the profession if they are to become more than words. The CNO told Nursing Times the framework’s key element was recognising the potential of nurses, midwives and care staff, and that it was possible to “start small but have a big impact”.

She will launch the strategy via a live video link-up with Nursing Times’ Directors’ Congress in Manchester. The event, now in its second year, will see directors of nursing from across the country meet to discuss the challenges facing them, the profession and the NHS.

One speaker will be Nottingham nursing director Mandie Sunderland, who will launch the next stage in her drive to unleash the potential of nurses to improve the NHS’s ability to save money through procurement. Nursing Times has been a supporter of her campaign since its early days in 2014 and wishes it every success now it has national momentum – this is surely a great example of starting small and having a big impact!

Last week I had the honour of attending the annual celebration of the life of Florence Nightingale at Westminster Abbey. The event was a powerful reminder of what nursing has achieved since the 1850s and can achieve in future – if nurtured and supported appropriately. Many nurses across the country are already leading change and adding value. They need acknowledgement of what they can achieve and, most importantly, practical support to do so. Hopefully the new framework will deliver. 

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