Exclusive: Chief nurse pledges to improve image of nursing

England’s chief nursing officer (CNO) is to embark on a project to improve the image of nursing. 
Jane Cummings

England’s chief nursing officer (CNO) is to embark on a project to improve the image of nursing.

Jane Cummings says she will work to improve the profession’s reputation Photo: David Gee

Speaking exclusively to Nursing Standard, Jane Cummings outlined early plans for a joint initiative with the RCN.

‘It is about encouraging people to join and to stay in the profession,’ said Professor Cummings, speaking ahead of her CNO summit on 14-15 March.

Boost public understanding

She said the project would give the public a better understanding of what the roles of nurse and midwife entail, as well as highlighting the expertise and compassion nurses display.

Professor Cummings said she was aware of the pressures nurses face in the current NHS climate, but that it was important to highlight positives too.

‘There is a risk that all we ever hear about the profession is negative stories,’ she said.

‘Talking to staff and learning about what they do, listening to patients and seeing the shortlist for the RCNi Nurse Awards 2017, there is fantastic work going on. People are doing wonderful things and delivering a really good service.’ 

Professor Cummings spoke about a recent talk she gave to school pupils about working in the NHS. She said other nurses should follow suit to inspire the next generation of healthcare professionals.

‘There are senior nurses all over the country who could go to their local schools and talk about nursing.’

New models of care

She said the forthcoming CNO summit would help highlight the opportunities for nurses to play a central role in the new models of care set out in the NHS Five Year Forward View, published in 2014.

‘It is important that we give people an opportunity to work together, to look and think about how we can continue to improve care.’

Professor Cummings also emphasised that nurses were central to the delivery of new ways of working. She cited new models of care, and the transformation of maternity and mental health services, as key areas for the NHS.

‘Nurses and midwives are critical to improving care and doing the right thing for patients,’ she said. 

Leadership roles

Professor Cummings added that the agenda for the forthcoming summit had been designed around last year’s nursing strategy Leading Change, Adding Value. She said it would include sessions on NHS sustainability and transformation plans, healthcare integration and workforce planning.

The summit is expected to host up to 500 senior nurses and midwives, and will focus on nursing staff as leaders of change.

Speakers will include NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens and NHS Improvement chief executive Jim Mackey. Nurse and poet Molly Case has been commissioned by the CNO to write a poem to be revealed at the summit.

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