Editorial

Why were nurses snubbed at Rishi Sunak’s summit on NHS pressures?

Who contributed the knowledge of the profession at Downing Street? The complexity of nursing cannot be known without their voices in the room

Who contributed the knowledge of the profession at the Downing Street table? The complexity of nursing cannot be known without their voices in the room

The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) mantra is: ‘Be at the table – or you (as nurses) will be on the menu’. Nurses make up the largest part of the clinical workforce, spend the most time with the people they care for and know what needs to change. It was therefore inexplicable that no nurses were invited to a recent summit at 10 Downing Street to discuss current NHS pressures.

Who contributed the expert knowledge, data and intelligence of the nursing profession?

Who contributed the knowledge of the profession at the Downing Street table? The complexity of nursing cannot be known without their voices in the room

The complexity of nursing cannot be known without their voices heard
Illustration: iStock

The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) mantra is: ‘Be at the table – or you (as nurses) will be on the menu’. Nurses make up the largest part of the clinical workforce, spend the most time with the people they care for and know what needs to change. It was therefore inexplicable that no nurses were invited to a recent summit at 10 Downing Street to discuss current NHS pressures.

Who contributed the expert knowledge, data and intelligence of the nursing profession? In particular, the expertise around caring for people in their communities and at home, avoiding hospital admissions, providing treatments now regularly given by nurses, such as IV antibiotics, chemotherapy and oxygen therapy.

Profession unlikely to be understood by politicians unless they shadow a district nurse

All district nursing teams (and community children’s nursing teams) have patients with acute care needs – such as being ventilated at home. This is unlikely to be understood by politicians unless they have shadowed a district nurse, observing the extraordinary scope of the daily work and care coordination.

‘Nurses make up the largest part of the clinical workforce, spend the most time with the people they care for and know what needs to change’

The complexity of general practice nursing work too, supporting people to manage their long-term conditions and actively keeping them out of hospital, cannot be known without their voices in the room. The same applies to nurses in social care.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak spoke of an expansion of virtual wards and greater support for frail older people to stay at home, so I hope there was recognition of the workforce who plan, organise, manage and deliver these services who were missing from the discussion. Because nursing work ‘as imagined’ will not translate to nursing work ‘as done’.

Offer a shadowing opportunity to your local MP in 2023

The QNI has offered assistance through data, evidence and our networks of nurses working in health and social care. We plan to be at the table throughout 2023, discussing solutions and articulating the value and complex work of our highly talented nursing profession.

I urge all experienced nurses to do the same locally, regionally and nationally. Offer a shadowing opportunity to your local MP in 2023. It is a successful way of influencing policy and showcasing the critical expertise of nurses.


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