England’s chief nurse says she is committed to improving learning disability care

Chief nursing officer Ruth May vows to improve the lives of people with learning disability and the nurses who care for them

Ruth May. Picture: John Houlihan

Chief nursing officer for England Ruth May has declared that she is committed to making improvements in the lives of people with learning disabilities and autism, as well as to learning disability nursing.

She also told the Positive Choices conference on 26 April that she was considering introducing January student intakes – as well as the traditional September intake – in a bid to increase the number of clinical placements that students can undertake.

‘Only one third of universities offer January intakes. I am hoping to move that to two thirds offering January intakes,’ she said.

Personal commitment

Students at the conference at Birmingham City University were the first group of nursing students to hear Ms May speak.

She told them that her great aunt had learning disabilities. ‘She lived at home and used to knit and crochet.

'I remember her in that room. She didn’t go out because her family were ashamed of my great aunt Mary. That is why I am personally very committed to this agenda.’

Uniform campaign

Ms May outlined some of her other priorities, which include a mini nurse uniform campaign aimed at primary school students to encourage them to go into nursing, gender neutral uniforms and encouraging more men into the profession.

She also wants to ensure that nursing maintains its role as the country’s most trusted profession and to promote #team CNO to encourage nurses to ‘come together and support one another with one voice’.

Ms May is learning the sign language Makaton. She took part, along with hundreds of others at the conference, in an attempt to break the Guinness Word Record for the most people in one room signing ‘Hello my name is…’ in Makaton for two minutes.

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