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New Florence Nightingale Foundation chief executive outlines plans for future

The new chief executive at the Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) is keen to promote black and minority ethnic (BME) issues and tackle systemic problems in nursing.
Florence Nightingale Foundaiton logo

The new chief executive at the Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) is keen to promote black and minority ethnic (BME) issues and tackle systemic problems in nursing.

Ursula Ward has taken over from Elizabeth Robb at the FNF, and said she aims to build on her predecessors good work while championing a profession that is becoming increasingly complex.

I think for a small organisation with a tight infrastructure, the FNF has achieved a lot, said Ms Ward, adding: Id like to take it to the next level.

Part of this will be challenging the low representation of BME nurses in senior positions.

At this years FNF Conference in February, University of Nottingham associate professor Stacy Johnson presented a pilot scheme to help increase

The new chief executive at the Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) is keen to promote black and minority ethnic (BME) issues and tackle systemic problems in nursing.


The foundation was set up to help senior nurses with training and offers scholarships for study in the UK and abroad

Ursula Ward has taken over from Elizabeth Robb at the FNF, and said she aims to build on her predecessor’s good work while championing a profession that is becoming ‘increasingly complex’.

‘I think for a small organisation with a tight infrastructure, the FNF has achieved a lot,’ said Ms Ward, adding: ‘I’d like to take it to the next level.’

Part of this will be challenging the low representation of BME nurses in senior positions.

At this year’s FNF Conference in February, University of Nottingham associate professor Stacy Johnson presented a pilot scheme to help increase the number of senior BME nurses.

Falling numbers 

She said despite previous initiatives, the number of BME nurses at band 8 or above had fallen.

In the 2014 Snowy White Peaks NHS England report, joint director of the workforce race equality implementation Roger Kline found only 2.8% of band 8 nurses were from BME backgrounds, despite making up 26% of the band 5 nursing workforce.

‘I think it is a sad reflection that we don’t have a better spread of nurses and senior leadership roles from different backgrounds,’ said Ms Ward.

She praised her predecessor professor Robb and England’s chief nursing officer Jane Cummings for their work to increase diversity, adding: ‘It is something I would absolutely look to support.’

The FNF was set up to help senior nurses with training and provides a range of scholarships for study in the UK and abroad.

Ward sister roles 

Ms Ward wants the foundation’s study programmes to develop ward sister roles, and to assist with the national move towards more community and preventative care.

‘Nurses and midwives have got a massive role to play in that, so what I would like to do is make sure that the foundation is organising itself in such a way that it supports that agenda,’ said Ms Ward.

She said cuts to NHS funding for training and the time nurses can dedicate to developing skills presented a challenge, but the foundation would work hard to continue to provide scholarships in a ‘financially tight environment’.

Ms Ward suggested future research could focus on issues such as health and well-being, and the impact of new nursing associates and nursing degree apprentices.


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