The new chief nurse for England has urged healthcare staff to remember to look after each other, but dismissed concerns about staffing levels, during an appearance at a major conference of NHS leaders.
Jane Cummings, who took on the CNO role in March, told delegates at the NHS Confederation conference her guiding principles were care, compassion, commitment and courage.
She said: “Whether highly specialised or providing food and drink, compassion is how we do that. It’s the way we speak to people, it’s the way we reinforce their dignity and show them respect.
[It’s also] really important how we care for each other. It’s hard work in the NHS, clinicians work really hard… we all have a duty to look after each other.”
Ms Cummings role is based with the new NHS Commissioning Board, which will oversee the operation of the NHS under the reformed system, rather than the Department of Health. She told the conference her role was not just to look at commissioning but to be a professional lead for all nurses and midwives.
Asked how nurses could continue to deliver compassionate care in the face of declining staff numbers, she said good care was not just about “numbers”.
“It’s about the leadership, the behaviour, the values, the culture of the organisation. We know there are some organisations where nurses give fantastic care with the same number as the hospital next door [where care is not as good].”
She encouraged organisations to make more use of technology to release nurses’ time to care.