Exclusive: ‘Undervalued nurses’ tackled by new global campaign

The former NHS chief executive under Tony Blair has said nurses are too often invisible, taken for granted and prevented from being as effective as they could be, as he unveils more details of new global nursing campaign.
Nigel Crisp

Nurses are too often ‘invisible, taken for granted and prevented from being as effective as they could be’, says a former health minister and NHS leader spearheading a new global campaign to boost the profile of nursing.

Lord Crisp, chair of the UK All-Parliamentary Group on Global health. Picture: PA

Speaking exclusively to Nursing Standard, chair of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health (APPG) Nigel Crisp said the new campaign would help tackle the issue.

The Nursing Now! campaign aims to build on the findings of the APPG triple impact report, which last year highlighted the need to develop the nursing profession.

‘Stop undervaluing nurses’

First announced at the International Council of Nurses (ICN) congress in May, the campaign officially launches in January 2018 after funding and programmes are in place.

Lord Crisp said: ‘If we are going to improve global health, we need to develop nurses and stop undervaluing and underutilising them.

‘Nurses everywhere were saying similar things – “we are unable to be as effective as we could be” – for a series of reasons.’

A meeting of the Nursing Now! steering group in London in July, which includes RCN general secretary Janet Davies and ICN chief executive Frances Hughes, agreed the following four objectives for the three-year campaign:

  1. Promote the influence of nursing and develop nurse leadership - with a ‘suite of development programmes’ and a flagship global senior leadership programme.
  2. Provide evidence of the beneficial impact of nurses – provide evidence and facilitate research, supported by a landmark study on the economic impact of nursing.
  3. Support nursing as a route for women’s empowerment - showing how nursing affects the status and economic power of women and working with global institutions on it.
  4. Demonstrate the effect of nursing in policy - working with a small number of exemplar countries to show how engaging nurses in policy making can improve health.

Lord Crisp said the campaign was still in a ‘consultative, developmental’ phase in advance of its official launch and is keen to hear ideas and thoughts from nurses.

Support for countries in need

‘We want it to become both an advocacy and grassroots campaign,’ he said, explaining primary focus would be on the countries needing it the most.

He said: ‘Lots of senior UK nurses are already involved in various ways and people are supportive and excited about it.

‘Globally, I think it is terribly good timing as many countries are now realising they need to do more with their nurses.’

Ms Davies said the RCN was ‘very enthusiastic’ about the campaign and its potential to support WHO global health targets.

Meet goals

‘It’s important we’ve got the nursing infrastructure and leadership at all levels. In countries across the world we are seeing the potential nursing has to meet these goals,’ she said.

Although the campaign is run through the APPG, from October it will become part of UK charity, the Burdett Trust for Nursing.

An executive director will be appointed in the autumn and Lord Crisp said it was anticipated it would have a high-profile patron and global ambassadors.

Nursing Now! will conclude with a report on progress in 2020 as part of the celebrations for the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.

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