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The big question: how can nursing increase its political influence?

  • 9 Comments

The Quality Nursing and Care Quality Forum made up of more than 20 experienced frontline nurses has been left “in limbo”, after apparently being unofficially scrapped.

The forum was set up by David Cameron in April 2011, as part of efforts to address high profile failings in nursing care.

The group has played a key role in pushing for safe staffing levels, developing leadership in nursing and promoting a culture of compassionate care. However, it has now been told unofficially that it is no longer needed.

The forum’s chair, Sally Brearley, told Nursing Times the group’s last meeting was in November and members were aware then that there was a “question mark over our continued existence”.

Ms Brearley said the forum’s members were “very keen to continue” and that a submission had been made to both David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary.

“A submission was made to the secretary of state and the prime minister about what the future or not of the forum might be, so we are still waiting to hear,” she said. “We feel we have done a good job and feel a little bit disappointed that we are being kept in limbo like this.”

What does this mean for the nursing “voice”? How can the profession increase its influence on policy?

  • 9 Comments

Readers' comments (9)

  • Is it possible for nurses to have an influence over government thinking? What has been our experience to date ? Government, whatever flavour, has not been kind to our profession. The only time you hear anything good from HMG is when it suits the party in power.

    I actually do not expect a reasonable hearing from HMG. The only surprise is those people on the forum who thought they were being listened to. Those people are meant to be intelligent, but seem unable to come to the conclusion that they are being conned.

    It's all about image for a political party, it sounds good that the PM is sitting down with nurses. As soon as it's usefulness has ended, the forum is dumped, that is how it works. The only strange bit is the deluded fools who thought they were making a difference.

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  • michael stone

    'It's all about image for a political party, it sounds good that the PM is sitting down with nurses.'

    Posted by anonymous above, but being rather cynical about politicians, I suspect that could well be a major factor in why the group was set up: Francis slams 'lack of compassion', and 'focus on the nurses who are closest to the patients' (and especially on their 'attitudes') instead of the less politically convenient 'focus on everything in the system, from HCAs up to Trust Boards and on to DH and the Treasury', has an obvious appeal to ruling politicians.

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  • tinkerbell

    sally brearly said 'question mark over our continued existence'

    there's a question mark over all of us and our continued existence as a valued work force. Until we have a robust union that will ballot its members and members are prepared to take united industrial action we will remain unheard, disregarded and thrown on the scrap heap to continue our mutterings.

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  • tinkerbell

    JFK: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable".

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  • tinkerbell

    Not only can he determine our wages, reduce our terms & conditions, how nursing evolves or not as the case may be, Hunt can now politically determine the fate of local health services. He can close a failing hospital (one not making a profit) within 40 days (Clause 119 now law) then re-open it as a private hospital. He is selling off the most profitable services like hip and knee surgery, but leaving A&E and chronic conditions for the NHS to sort out with limited funding being provided. When these NHS hospitals fail what happens next?

    This really isn't just about nursing it is about the bigger picture and future of Nursing and OUR NHS.

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  • michael stone

    I do have an off-the-wall thought, about this one.

    'The Quality Nursing and Care Quality Forum'

    Why don't they - if they think their expertise and perspective is valuable, and as they are already together - simply 'go rogue' ?

    They could continue as a non-officially-sanctioned 'expert nursing thinktank', they could swap e-mails and phone calls with each other, and they could still, as a group of experts, send their opinions to the DH and goverment whenever they felt that necessary ?

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  • tinkerbell

    michael stone | 22-Mar-2014 2:50 pm

    it was this article I meant to answer you on,
    'what you mean use their initiative?'

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  • michael stone

    tinkerbell | 23-Mar-2014 5:43 pm

    Yep, I had drawn that conclusion.

    I've exchanged a bunch of e-mails with a consultant who used to be one of those 'Tsars' the goverment was keen on. He did comment, that after leaving 'official' posts, he could 'speak his mind'. Our e-mails broke down - twice - because although I found the discussions really informative, he insists on discussing stuff 'off the record': as I'm trying to 'bend the ear' of a lot of NHS folk, it is immensely frustrating to argue something out with senior NHS clinicians, establish that they agree with my position, but for me to then NOT be able to write 'I've discussed this with X, Y and Z, and we all agree about it'.

    So if that group of nurses did go 'unofficial', they could in theory speak more critically about anything not coming from their direct employer: as the DH no longer seems to directly employ anybody 'front-line', and there are so many employing organisations these days, if you had a n expert group of 12 nurses, I'm guessing that for any given issue at least 9 of them ought to be able to [freely] 'opine' about it !

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  • Try starting by restoring the full role of the Nursing Division in DH.

    Nurses need to be part of each stage of policy development and implementation for it to be robust. It's only an arrogant government who would dare proceed without this essential advice and support as part of their change process. Mind you, some of the policies recently need an incinerator rather than an advisor...

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