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Nurse leader: Game-changing report sets out case for investing in health workforce

Bold leadership is required if we are to put the healthcare workforce at the centre of the global political agenda, says the ICN's Howard Catton
howard

In New York on September 21, a potentially game-changing report was submitted to the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Led by the presidents of France and South Africa Francoise Hollande and Jacob Zuma the UN Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth sets out a powerful, evidence-based economic case for investing in the health workforce.

Political and policy leaders understand that healthcare is a people-focused business. Without nurses, no global health challenge can be addressed, nor the goal of universal health coverage attained.

But investment is frequently lacking, because spending on health is considered a drain on the economy.

The political mantra in the UK has been that a strong economy is necessary for a strong NHS, but this report refutes that.

Its central message is

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In New York on September 21, a potentially game-changing report was submitted to the Secretary General of the United Nations. 

Led by the presidents of France and South Africa – Francoise Hollande and Jacob Zuma – the UN Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth sets out a powerful, evidence-based economic case for investing in the health workforce.

Political and policy leaders understand that healthcare is a people-focused business. Without nurses, no global health challenge can be addressed, nor the goal of universal health coverage attained. 

But investment is frequently lacking, because spending on health is considered a drain on the economy.

The political mantra in the UK has been that a strong economy is necessary for a strong NHS, but this report refutes that. 

Its central message is that health employment is a driver of economic growth and development, not a dead weight.

The report calls for the scaling up of education, more support for advanced practice nursing, and improved pay and working conditions. 

Investing in the health workforce is also an investment in women, whose empowerment leads to a reduction in inequality and stronger, more cohesive communities that ultimately deliver economic benefits.  

The International Council of Nurses, led by president Judith Shamian, who was one of the commissioners, has played a key role in putting the healthcare workforce at the centre of the global political agenda. 

A change in political mindset and bold leadership is what is required now.  


About the author 

Howard Catton

Howard Catton is director, nursing and health policy, International Council of Nurses
@HowardCatton

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