We will be working to commission training for students and nurses to strengthen health protection knowledge and skills, says Viv Bennett
Earlier this year I hosted the first Department of Health/Public Health England conference, “Improving the public’s health - the key roles of nurses and midwives”. More than 300 nurses and midwives from all branches of the professions shared knowledge and thoughts on how personalised care and population health are professional responsibilities.
In September, PHE held the first annual conference of over 1,000 public health specialists and practitioners. The importance of nursing in this area formed part of the PHE chief executive’s opening address and the conference demonstrated the roles of nurses and midwives in population health. A session on nursing and midwifery drew a multidisciplinary audience and showcased sexual health nursing, health protection nursing in tuberculosis, the Royal College of Nursing’s role in public health and that of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in developing public health guidance.
‘Nurses could play significant roles in the development of health-promoting hospitals’
It was also a chance to share the model for public health nursing and midwifery in England and to gather views. A session on “healthcare public health” set out developments on how NHS organisations’ local data can be used in all kinds of ways to benefit their populations. Nurses could play significant roles in the development of “health-promoting hospitals”.
Nurses and midwives at these events and at many inspiring local visits tell me that to develop skills and build on professional motivation to engage with public health, a clear national framework and support for local development are needed. PHE and the DH are working together under the leadership of senior nurses to build on this to clarify, support and strengthen the “personalised care and population health” contribution and harness local enthusiasm for this work.
We will be working with Health Education England and local education and training boards to commission training for students and nurses to strengthen health improvement and health protection knowledge and skills (strongly requested by students) and to develop CPD. Professionals have asked us how best they can deliver health improvement advice. We need to make learning opportunities available in Making Every Contact Count, motivational/promotional interviewing, strength-based approaches and behaviour change models, and to develop more interactive information, learning and sharing portals.
We will continue to enhance the public health nursing and midwifery model for England and work with NICE to boost the evidence base for practice. Part of the work is to improve the use of data to inform and develop practice and to demonstrate effectiveness; we will be working with partners, including NHS England and local authorities, to use this to improve commissioning in respect of the public health aspects of nurses’ and midwives’ roles. We are collecting and sharing case studies and best practice examples as a resource and to link theory and practice.
The impact of the professions’ work must be visible and recognised so it can be drawn on in our drive to improve health outcomes. We are using a range of approaches, including developing champions/ambassadors, and working through the national nursing and midwifery strategy, Compassion in Practice.
We are promoting our work through social media and building on our 300 conference nurses by developing networks with wide reach across the professions. Join us on Twitter @PHE_uk and our networks to make a difference to the public’s health.
● Information from the conferences and our work can be found at tinyurl.com/q5m69aa
Viv Bennett is director of nursing at the Department of Health and Public Health England