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Health secretary invites new CNO’s advice on workforce issues

Nursing leaders welcome signs of close working relationship between Ruth May and Matt Hancock

Nursing leaders welcome signs of close working relationship between Ruth May and Matt Hancock


England's chief nursing officer Ruth May and health and social care secretary
Matt Hancock. Picture: Barney Newman/Alamy

Nurse leaders have praised the prospect of a ‘close working relationship’ between England’s new chief nursing officer (CNO) and the health secretary.

Ruth May and health and social care secretary Matt Hancock both released statements following their first meeting on workforce issues this week, with the minister saying the CNO will be advising him on nursing workforce policy.

Representing nurses’ interests

Dr May said: ‘I am looking forward to ensuring the interests of nurses, midwives and other care professions are represented fully as we address the workforce challenges and opportunities across the NHS.

‘As set out in the Long Term Plan, we need a collective voice and vision to influence and lead this change.’

Mr Hancock described nurses as the ‘beating heart’ of the NHS and added: ‘I have asked Ruth to be at the table as we tackle the issues facing nurses at this crucial time for the NHS, drawing on her invaluable experience to advise me directly on all aspects of nursing policy.’

Moving in the right direction

RCN acting general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: ‘The news that Ruth May will be giving the secretary of state direct advice on the nursing workforce and its valuable contribution takes the profession in the right direction and we welcome it.’

However, she added that the college still believes that removing the CNO nursing role from the Department of Health and Social Care was a ‘grave error’. 

Queen’s Nursing Institute chief executive Crystal Oldman said the organisation was 'delighted' with the indication of a close working relationship between Dr May and Mr Hancock.

She said: 'I have been particularly impressed by Ruth’s actions since her appointment to become even more informed about areas of the workforce which are key to the delivery of the Long Term Plan, including nursing services in community, primary care and social care settings.’

Message the CNO

The CNO will chair a future clinical workforce group as part of the NHS workforce implementation plan.

Dr May published her first CNO bulletin this week and encouraged nurses to let her know via Twitter what they are doing and are proud of, using the hashtag #teamCNO.

The CNO Summit will be held at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole on the 13-14 March.


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