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Forum focus: nurses belong in key influencing roles on merit

Nurses have had to fight for a place at the table when important decisions are made
Picture shows several figures standing or sitting around a table

Nurses have had to fight for a place at the table when important decisions are made, but they should be among the key influencers

For years nurses have been recognised as catalysts and influencers. We are experts in what we know and at what we do. During this pandemic we have proved that time and time again.

We have kept cancer services going despite the restrictions and we are instrumental in how we meet the next challenge reinstating what has been put on hold and managing a backlog of need, which we will do with all our usual care and compassion.

We can combine the strategic with the operational to enhance the outcome

We have an understanding of what people are facing day-to-day as well as an ability to see the bigger picture. We can also combine the strategic

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Nurses have had to fight for a place at the table when important decisions are made, but they should be among the key influencers

Picture shows several figures standing or sitting around a table
Picture: iStock

For years nurses have been recognised as catalysts and influencers. We are experts in what we know and at what we do. During this pandemic we have proved that time and time again.

We have kept cancer services going despite the restrictions and we are instrumental in how we meet the next challenge – reinstating what has been put on hold and managing a backlog of need, which we will do with all our usual care and compassion.

‘We can combine the strategic with the operational to enhance the outcome’

We have an understanding of what people are facing day-to-day as well as an ability to see the bigger picture. We can also combine the strategic with the operational to enhance the outcome.

Recently I was invited to be a panel member of a webinar looking at how we can reintroduce all cancer services and catch up on the backlog that has accrued over the past few months. I was then told that they had already agreed on another nurse and I was stepped down.

Clearly they had their ‘one nurse’ – and a brilliant one at that. But the truth was they only had that nurse because there had been some criticism when the panel was advertised without one.

As we know, a nurse has not had a seat on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, known as SAGE. A nurse has rarely stood at the podium during the regular Downing Street coronavirus briefings. Yet there are many of us with relevant expertise, and given the opportunity we can add a lot of value.

‘There should be no question about including a nurse’

It makes me wonder why, during the peak of the pandemic, hospitals were named after nurses – NHS Nightingale and the NHS Seacole Centre – yet we were too often absent from key influencing roles.

There should be no question about including a nurse, whether on a key advisory board, in a debate or by a government minister’s side.

This is not a time when we should have to prove our worth – we know our worth. The pandemic has been an opportunity for people to hear our voices and to understand the breadth of our expertise, but often we’ve had to fight to be heard.

Thank goodness that, as a body of professionals, we’ve held people to account and opened up places at tables as a result. We have to continue to do so until those places are always a given and never an afterthought.


Picture of Nikki Morris,  chair of the RCN cancer and breast care forum and chief executive officer of Age UK CamdenNikki Morris, @nikki_a_morris, is chair of the RCN cancer and breast care forum and chief executive officer of Age UK Camden

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