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Chief nurse calls for gender equality on NHS boards

She also wants to see more nurses and midwives in senior management

Mark Gould

Friday, 09 September 2016

The Chief Nursing Officer for England, Professor Jane Cummings, says she wants to see a balance of genders on NHS boards with more nurses and midwives in senior positions within the next five years.

“I am determined to ensure our professions have a seat at the table as we tackle the challenges ahead. The nursing and midwifery professions have a vital role to help shape an NHS and care system for the future and their voices must be heard," Professor Cummings said in a speech at the Health and Care Innovation Expo 2016 conference in Manchester yesterday.

Professor Cummings said that the launch of a new framework, Leading Change, Adding Value in May this year is already encouraging nursing, midwifery and care staff to take a leading role in eradicating variation in the quality and efficiency of care.

On leadership and equality, she said: “The NHS has a clear target to achieve gender-balanced boards by 2020 and there are increasing opportunities for all nurses and midwives to progress in leadership roles, but we need to nurture talent early to support our next generation of leaders.

“Developing leaders at all levels is one of my priorities as CNO – the potential in our workforce to manage the challenges of today and shape the future should not be underestimated.”

She also urged nurses and midwives staff to engage in a debate about the shape of the workforce for the future. “The world is changing and as a profession we need to respond in the right way, by taking responsibility and the lead to ensure we can meet the challenges we face.

“Is our workforce ready for these challenges? Are we making full use of our graduate workforce? Are we really addressing the training needed for prevention, technology and changing care requirements?” she said.

She spoke about the changes to the way nurses work with the introduction of revalidation, a new nursing support role and changes to the end of the bursary system. “Questions have been asked about the impact the planned changes to the bursary system may have – this is uncharted territory and 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.”

And with finances being squeezed she said nurses needed to find ways of being more efficient while modernising services and taking care into the community. "This is tough, but as the largest group of healthcare professionals we should take the lead.

“Nurses and midwives have a key role to play, including ensuring the health and social care system work effectively together and that everyone understands how we can improve care for patients and the public.

“We also need to help the NHS respond to the challenges it faces, including how we can be more efficient – it is those on the frontline who know where those efficiencies are, how to reduce wasted time, share and adopt good practice and work with the public to explain and agree complex changes."

How would qualify the communication between primary and secondary care services? (See OnMedica News 20/04)

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