Workforce is priority, says England’s chief nurse after 100 days in post

Ruth May was speaking at launch of new children’s mental health centre 

Ruth May was speaking at launch of new children’s mental health centre

England’s CNO Ruth May lends a hand at opening of the Birch Centre.
Picture: John Houlihan

England’s chief nursing officer (CNO) has said workforce issues are her priority after 100 days in the role.

Speaking at yesterday’s launch of the Birch Centre, a new site for child and adolescent mental health services in the Wirral, Merseyside, Ruth May told Nursing Standard she was proud there was a ‘real conversation’ happening about priorities for nursing and midwifery.

Key focus

‘Workforce and filling the workforce gaps we have in our profession is key,’ Dr May said.

Baroness Dido Harding, chair of NHS Improvement, has been leading the development of an NHS workforce implementation plan, alongside Julian Hartley, chief executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Dr May has been chairing work on the future clinical workforce as part of the plan.

She said: ‘We have contributed to the work Baroness Harding is going to be publishing in the next few weeks on workforce, which she has called the People Plan.

‘Part of the workforce priority for me is how we encourage future generations into our profession. We need to continue to retain the people we’ve got and encourage those that are coming to the end of schooling and who want to move into a career in healthcare.’

Dr May said raising the profile of nursing was her second priority and the third was her #teamCNO project, where she has encouraged nurses to let her know, via the hashtag on Twitter, what they are doing and are proud of.

Collective voice

‘It’s about how we come together to ensure that nurses and midwives have a strong narrative,’ she said.

‘It’s not just about my top team, it is about every nurse and midwife in our profession speaking with a collective voice.’

Dr May said she was inspired to become CNO after hearing a dynamic talk from former CNO Dame Yvonne Moores 20 years ago.

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