The national nursing strategy for England has “recharged pride”, following the spate of negative publicity that has been aimed at nurses in recent years, according to the chief nursing officer.
The CNO for England Jane Cummings said today that the profession retains the “admiration of many”, despite high profile care failings such as those at Mid Staffordshire Foundation trust and Winterbourne View.
She told a conference of more than 400 senior nurses that she has seen examples of “truly exceptional patient care” this year, where staff have “gone above and beyond the call of duty and made a real difference”.
However, Ms Cummings acknowledged that cases like Mid Staffordshire have “threatened patient confidence and challenged us all as professionals”.
During her speech to the annual CNO summit in Birmingham, she unveiled a report on progress made during the first year since the launch of the national nursing strategy Compassion in Practice.
The Compassion in Practice: One Year On report paints a positive picture of the strategy’s impact so far, using patient and staff stories and case studies.
The three-year plan, launched in December 2012, includes the “6Cs” – a set of values and behaviours that nurses and midwives are expected to aspire to. They are care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment.
The 6Cs have been widely embraced by nurses and midwives, according to Ms Cummings, who said they have become an “exciting social movement” at grassroots level.
She told delegates: “The aim was to get back to the very essence of what great care means for patients and how we can put far reaching changes in place that translate into real improvements.
“Over the last year I have witnessed a widescale, positive embrace of the 6Cs as a set of values; the likes of which I have never seen before. It has re-instilled a common purpose and recharged pride in the profession,” she said.
However, Ms Cummings added that a culture of support, openness and transparency is also needed in the NHS, where staff “feel free to speak out, to challenge incidents of poor care and take immediate action to put things right”.
She highlighted last week’s announcement of guidance requiring trusts to publish regular data on nurse staffing levels, which formed part of the government’s response to the Francis report and three other high profile reviews.
Ms Cummings stated: “We need to do more to ensure that we have the right teams of staff with the right skills to deliver the best possible care for each specific situation. The guidance puts a renewed focus on the responsibility that healthcare providers have in taking an evidence-based approach to staffing.”
She added: “Our profession is the admiration of many. We see people at their most vulnerable and we have a duty to always act with compassion for our patients and act with the courage to challenge anything that goes against this.
“Each one of us in the profession needs to ensure that we live by these principles each and every day,” she said. “I’m proud to be a nurse and I know that the vast majority of my fellow nurses, midwives and care staff have, and always will, deliver great care.”
As part of her keynote speech, Ms Cummings also announced a “call to action” for nurses to join the “6Cs Live!” social media network , which was launched earlier this year.