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'Achieving the right nursing leadership is just as important for nurses providing direct care'

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This month, CNO Christine Beasley highlights the future of nursing leadership

The secretary of state for health made a significant announcement about the future of nursing leadership as part of the modernisation agenda for both the Department of Health and the NHS.

In future, there will be a chief nursing officer role on the NHS Commissioning Board. There will also be a director of nursing role at the department of health, and these posts will be complementary. It is likely the advertisements for the posts will be placed in late spring to early summer, which should mean the new appointees will be in post by October 2011.

I am delighted that there will continue to be strong national nursing leadership on both the NHS Commissioning Board and in the Department of Health to take forward clinically focused commissioning and the further development of public health.

I am mindful that the next few months will be a crucial time for nursing leadership and I have agreed to remain in post on a part-time basis to oversee the transition until October. I will continue to provide professional leadership and advice to the Department of Health and I will provide advice to Sir David Nicholson on issues relating to the commissioning board. I will also retain responsibility of the Health Visitor Implementation Plan for 2011/2015 for increasing the health visitor workforce and developing the health visiting service across the country.

When I am not working, nursing, midwifery and allied health professional advice will be provided by my current senior leadership team: Dr David Foster, Viv Bennett and Karen Middleton.

You may recall I talked about the pace of change last month and Sir David Nicholson’s letter, Equity and Excellence - managing the transition, provides a useful update on the transition arrangements together with a description of the integrated commissioning system.

I understand the changes I have outlined may seem more relevant to those nurses in leadership roles; however, getting the right leadership in place is just as important for those nurses providing direct care and well-being services. The ability to influence and lead changes to improve services to patients and communities demonstrates the central role nurses need to play.

The Health Service Ombudsman’s report, Care and Compassion, graphically illustrates what happens when such leadership is not in place. If you have not already read this report, I urge you to do so, along with our feature on it in this issue. While I recognise the majority of nurses provide outstanding care, the few who do not undermine the public’s confidence in us and each one of us has a responsibility to do all we can to take action on poor practice.

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