Analysis

Nursing Now: Globally advocating for nursing leadership

Nurses need to be more engaged in the development of policy and services and in acting as role models, say health experts, as a three-year campaign to boost the profession’s profile worldwide is launched

Nurses need to be more engaged in the development of policy and services and in acting as role models, say health experts, as a three-year campaign to boost the profession’s profile worldwide is launched


Former chief executive of the NHS in England Lord Nigel Crisp. Picture: PA Images

Former chief executive of the NHS in England Lord Nigel Crisp, along with global leaders in nursing and medicine, is leading the ambitious Nursing Now campaign.

Speaking to Nursing Management, Lord Crisp says Nursing Now builds on the findings of the 2016 Triple Impact report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health, which highlighted the need to develop the nursing profession to improve health, promote gender equality and support economic growth.

The main strands of the Nursing Now campaign include ensuring that more nurses are involved in policy making and leadership roles, and supporting development and leadership programmes.

Overall image

16

The number of countries represented on the Nursing Now board

Lord Crisp explains: ‘The overall picture is that we think nurses are going to have an even bigger and more important role in healthcare and health promotion in the future.

‘Nurses need to be engaged in the development of policy and how services develop.

‘We need nurses in leadership positions, organising services and being role models; and we have to get on with it.’

The campaign is putting senior nurses, particularly those who have been through leadership fellowships and programmes, in touch with each other and helping to promote learning opportunities for nurses across all levels.

‘We are working to develop a network of alumni from all the leadership programmes that exist to create a network of nurses who have been through such programmes.

‘This would bring together a visible force of very senior nurses, typically chief nursing officers.

‘We need some development programmes for the most senior nurses, and we also need programmes right the way through the system.’

‘Nurses need to be engaged in the development of policy and how services develop'

Lord Nigel Crisp

Lord Crisp says Nursing Now will help promote and encourage all nurses to sign up for a host of online and interactive programmes.

Such programmes include the free five-module course at the NHS School for Change Agents, led by NHS England Horizons team chief transformation officer Helen Bevan.

The US-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement is also making several of its programmes on healthcare improvements and leadership freely available for nurses.

But this is not an exclusively Anglo-American campaign; Nursing Now has a board that represents 16 countries from around the world.

'Quick wins'

Part of the campaign focus is on advocating at a global level to make sure there are nurse leaders in important positions.

There have already been ‘some quick wins’, according to Lord Crisp.

2018-2020

How long the Nursing Now campaign is planned to last

The World Health Organization (WHO), which in the past has attracted criticism for employing too few nurses, recently appointed its first chief nursing officer (CNO), Elizabeth Iro.

Lord Crisp explains: ‘We assisted in defining that job description for the position, which is the first-ever at the top of the organisation and accountable to the WHO director general.’

Similarly, a nurse has now joined WHO’s new, high-level global commission on non-communicable diseases after Lord Crisp questioned a lack of nursing presence.

Another campaign target is to ensure that 75% of countries have a CNO in place by 2020. Currently, Lord Crisp says estimates are that only between 30% and 40% of countries have one.

Breakthrough the profession needs?

International Council of Nurses (ICN) director of nursing and health policy Howard Catton hopes that Nursing Now will deliver ‘a breakthrough for the profession’ around the globe.

Mr Catton says that attitudes towards nursing must be adopted if ‘real and tangible changes’ to priorities and decision-making by political leaders are to be seen.

‘This will require an increase in both the numbers and profile of women in senior leadership positions in health, and across society more generally,’ he says.

Despite evidence linking nursing input to patient outcome, and years of campaigning, lobbying and advocating by nurses, Mr Catton says that politicians still fail to invest financially in the profession.

He thinks this is because the profession has yet to ‘persuasively make the big economic arguments for nursing’ and about how health is an absolute prerequisite for economic growth and prosperity.

Mr Catton says: ‘Nursing alliances and partnerships with the real power players, who then proactively advocate for the profession and help press our case, are still underdeveloped.

‘And women continue to experience inequalities professionally and personally, so there remains a significant gender power imbalance in countries right around the world.

‘As a truly global campaign, Nursing Now can shine a spotlight on these issues and keep them under scrutiny for the next two years.’

Mr Catton adds there is also ‘a strong case’ to define what the baseline of nursing leadership looks like to develop metrics to track advances over the campaign’s course.

‘In addition, increasing nursing leadership and development opportunities through a range of offers from online learning to programmes like the ICN Global Nursing Leadership Institute will be critical to helping grow the pipeline of future nursing leaders.’

‘It is a foolish society that undervalues or underutilises those who can contribute so much to a country’s development and improvement’

Dame Donna Kinnair

RCN director of nursing, policy and practice Dame Donna Kinnair says nursing and midwifery professions ‘touch the lives of everyone’ and reaches into communities worldwide.

Professor Kinnair says Nursing Now advocates for nurses to be more central to healthcare policy and ensure that they can use their skills, education and training to improve health as much as possible.

75%

The percentage of the world’s countries in which Nursing Now wants to see a chief nursing officer by 2020

‘It is a foolish society that undervalues or underutilises those who can contribute so much to a country’s development and improvement,’ she says.

‘Our leadership is crucial to the implementation of policies aimed at improving the health and well-being of societies and enabling communities to enact positive change.’

She adds that, ‘despite being overlooked’, nursing has been central to public health campaigns such as those to manage the Ebola crisis in western and central Africa and to reduce the number of tuberculosis cases, and to historical improvements in healthcare.

‘Through our work on the ground, interacting with communities, working with and educating patients and families, we recognise the best ways to improve health, promote social cohesion and support social protection.

‘Nurses are an enabler for positive change and a vehicle for economic growth.

‘It is this knowledge that makes us key to policy development and decision-making for health improvements.’

With three years to go, there is real ambition from healthcare leaders that the Nursing Now campaign can raise the profile of nursing higher than ever before.

The campaign

Nursing Now launched in a number of cities including London, Geneva and Kampala with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) on 27 February; it runs until the end of 2020.

It has five programmes designed to persuade countries and organisations to strengthen and develop their nursing workforces. These involve work on:

  • Ensuring more nurses are involved in policymaking and leadership roles.
  • Supporting development and leadership programmes.
  • Promoting the contribution nursing can make to universal health coverage.
  • Collating and publicising evidence about the impact of nursing.
  • Contributing to the United Nations ‘sustainable development goals’, particularly those relating to better health and well-being, gender equality and economic development.
  • Sharing good practice in new ways of working, from clinical skills to education and employment.

Nursing Now is run in association with the International Council of Nurses and is a programme of the Burdett Trust for Nursing.

 

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