Editorial

Nurses' voices must be heard by those in power

Editor Graham Scott says the debacle over student funding highlights nurses' lack of influence in the policy-making process.
Graham_Scott

How much influence do nurses have on the development of health policy? An obvious answer is not enough, another would be precious little.

For a host of reasons, the nursing voice is either not heard or ignored by those in power, especially in England, and by the time staff are consulted on a proposed change it is far too late.

The challenge therefore is to get in early and influence politicians and their advisers before minds are made up. Otherwise we end up in the mess England is in over the decision to charge tuition fees to nursing students and allow universities to determine how many nurses are trained.

Even chief nurse, Jane Cummings, has voiced concerns over the implications of the planned changes. We need to be mindful of the potential risks as well as the potential benefits the removal of the cap on training places

How much influence do nurses have on the development of health policy? An obvious answer is ‘not enough’, another would be ‘precious little’.

For a host of reasons, the nursing voice is either not heard or ignored by those in power, especially in England, and by the time staff are consulted on a proposed change it is far  too late.

The challenge therefore is to get in early and influence politicians and their advisers before minds are made up. Otherwise we end up in the mess England is in over the decision to charge tuition fees to nursing students and allow universities to determine how many nurses are trained.

Even chief nurse, Jane Cummings, has voiced concerns over the implications of the planned changes. ‘We need to be mindful of the potential risks as well as the potential benefits the removal of the cap on training places could bring,’ she warned.

Quite. But why is her voice being heard now? Ministers are not fond of performing u-turns for fear of looking indecisive, incompetent, or both, so it’s unlikely they will back down.

The campaigns demanding a rethink must continue, but their impact will probably be limited.

Ms Cummings and other nurse leaders need to be in the room when such policies are created, not stood outside looking through the window while the profession's fate is being determined.

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs