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England’s top nurses inspire North East to continue leading change in the NHS

Thursday, 10 November, 2016
England’s top nurses inspire North East to continue leading change in the NHS

Two of the top nurses in the NHS have today encouraged North East nurses and midwives to continue putting the region at the forefront of innovation in the NHS by leading and inspiring high quality patient care.

During a visit to Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Jane Cummings, the chief nursing officer for the NHS in England and Ruth May, director of nursing at NHS Improvement, delivered passionate keynote speeches as part of the trust’s annual ‘Dynamic Nursing Conference’.

The chief nurse of the NHS called upon nurses and midwives to be the leaders of their profession and stressed the vital role nursing and midwifery staff play in today’s immensely challenging NHS where demand for services is ever increasing.

During the 50-minute address to over 200 nurses and midwives from across Northumberland and North Tyneside, Jane Cummings spoke about the immense value which nursing, midwifery and care staff can bring through strong collective  leadership and by ensuring a focus on high quality patient care is maintained. 

Professor Jane Cummings is the professional lead for all nurses and midwives in the NHS in England and was previously a nurse specialising in emergency care and the Chief Nurse for the north of England before taking up her national role in 2012.  She said: “I was privileged to be asked to speak at Northumbria Healthcare’s conference and meet staff who are delivering care on the frontline.

“For all of us in the NHS, this is a time of great change with many challenges. We, as nurses, witness the challenges on a daily basis whether we’re working in hospital or the community. However despite these, we must not lose sight of why we are here – to provide the best care we can for our patients – and focus on how our own professional role can enhance the care our patients receive.

“As nursing professionals we must continue to strive for excellence in our roles and push the boundaries on what we can achieve individually, and collectively as a nursing body, to the benefit of our patients and their families and the wider NHS.

“I have been most impressed by what I’ve heard and seen at Northumbria – from embedding the new model of emergency care, innovations in nurse training and recruitment and ongoing mentoring and support – it’s clear to see that the trust really values its nurses and it is a good place to work.”

Ruth May was appointed national director of nursing at NHS Improvement earlier this year and has a theatre nursing background with nearly 30 years’ experience of working in the NHS.  She spoke about the challenges facing the nursing and midwifery workforce in relation to staffing and the critical importance of having the right people, with right skills, in the right place to deliver high quality patients care in the future NHS. 

She said:  “The pressures on the NHS are greater than ever before and this means, as nurses, we are busier than ever before, our jobs are more demanding than ever before and the challenges facing our frontline teams, every day, are greater than ever before.

“Making sure the NHS has a workforce with the right numbers, skills, values and behaviours is critical for the future and in making sure all parts of our NHS can continue to deliver safe and effective patient care.  This is something we are actively supporting all trusts to achieve during what continues to be, an exceptionally busy time for frontline services.

“To achieve our long-term ambitions for the NHS, we must also think innovatively about how we train and develop the future nursing and midwifery workforce and the way in which care is delivered in the future – this is something which Northumbria is already embracing well ahead of many others and it is great to hear examples of this first hand from frontline staff today.”

Northumbria Healthcare is widely recognised as providing the highest standards of care to patients in hospital, in the community and in their own homes and was rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission earlier this year. Employing around 3,000 nurses and midwives, staff work in a variety of roles in all nursing specialties.

Now in its third year, Northumbria Healthcare’s 2016 nursing conference celebrated everything related to nursing and midwifery at the trust, with staff sharing best practice and being encouraged to add value to their professional practice.

Debbie Reape, interim executive director of nursing at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Jane and Ruth to the North East as part of our nursing conference which is a real boost to our teams and a strong reminder for everyone about the much-valued work of every nurse and midwife in the NHS.

“Nursing and midwifery in today’s NHS is a more demanding job than ever before and it’s really important that we take time to celebrate our staff and empower them to lead change so that we can embrace challenges effectively.  This is something we have a strong history of doing here at Northumbria Healthcare and our frontline teams across all parts of the workforce have been absolutely pivotal to our success over the years.

“We’re immensely proud of our nursing and midwifery workforce and will continue to do all we can to support them to continue to deliver safe, compassionate and effective patient care at all times.”

During the visit to Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Jane Cummings and Ruth May were joined by Jim Mackey, chief executive of NHS Improvement and former chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare. Other speakers at the conference included Tommy Whitelaw, one of the UK’s most effective and influential campaigners for raising awareness of caring with people with dementia.

Commenting on his return trip to Northumbria, Jim Mackey, chief executive of NHS Improvement, said: “Nurses and midwives across the country are working extremely hard during an immensely challenging time for the NHS and it is fantastic to be back in the North East to recognise the tremendous efforts of frontline teams.

“We don’t always hear enough about the fantastic work NHS staff do every single day to benefit patients and we are committed to supporting all trusts to develop leadership capability across the workforce so that more staff feel empowered to lead and embrace change.

“Creating positive cultures in which staff can thrive is a real priority across the NHS as we know this can have a direct impact on quality.  There is a very clear and proven link between engaged staff and positive patient outcomes and every nurse and midwife has a part to play as leaders in the NHS.”