Ensuring ward managers have supervisory status, using evidence based staffing levels and recruiting staff with the “right culture and values” are among the key priorities for action to improve the profession, according to the nurse leaders.
NHS Commissioning Board chief nursing officer Jane Cummings and Viv Bennett, director of nursing at the Department of Health, outlined their vision for the future of nursing in England on Friday.
The document – Developing the culture of compassionate care: creating a new vision for nurses, midwives and care givers – sets out six broad areas of nursing where they believe changes are needed.
- Healing people to stay independent, maximising wellbeing and improving health outcomes
- Working with people to provide a positive experience of care
- Delivering high quality care and measuring impact
- Building and strengthening leadership
- Ensuring that we have the right staff, with the right skills in the right place
- Supporting positive staff experience
The document also sets out six fundamental values that should underpin nursing, as previously reported by Nursing Times in July. These are care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment.
Ms Cummings and Ms Bennett said being a nurse or midwife was an “amazing role”, highlighting there was “hardly an intervention, treatment or car programme” in which they do not play a “significant part”.
But they said “real actions” were needed to support nurses and midwives to provide “excellent care”.
They said: “In particular we need to work together to ensure we meet the needs of older people - the largest group of services users - and treat them with the dignity and respect that they deserve in joined up health and care services.
Ms Cummings and Ms Bennett described the document as a “starting point”, which they wish to further develop with the input of the profession over the next eight weeks.
They said: “There is a fantastic opportunity for you to influence the next steps we will collectively take to set a course for the nursing, midwifery and care giving contribution to developing the culture of compassionate care and meeting the public’s health and care needs for coming years.”
Royal College of Midwives’ general secretary and chief executive Cathy Warwick said the college had been involved in early discussions around the project.
She said: “We know that women receiving maternity care want to be treated with respect. This means midwives should listen to women, treat them as individuals and ensure they have high quality information on which to base their decisions. A culture of compassionate care would encompass such practice.
“Whilst there is much evidence that many midwives are already providing compassionate services to women, sadly this is not always the case,” she added. “The RCM, therefore, welcomes the opportunity to work with the Department of Health and other stakeholders to ensure that compassionate care is available throughout maternity services to ensure the best care for mothers and babies.”
Peter Carter, Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary, said: “A culture of compassionate care is vital if we are to shape the NHS of the future. It is also just that – a culture, and it takes a concerted effort from all concerned to develop it.
“To always give that standard and quality of care, however, the system needs to support them rather than hinder them.”
He added that nursing staff often feel short staffed and unable to spend the time they would like with patients.