It begins by praising the contributions of nurses, midwives and caregivers, but admits that the care 'that is expected and deserved' is not always delivered, referring to recent reports that have exposed poor care.
This point is rightly acknowledged and has also been flagged up by nurses' leaders, from the Queen's Nursing Institute (in its Right Nurse, Right Skills campaign) to the RCN which, last month, launched a 'This is nursing' initiative highlighting the vital balance between clinical skills and compassion.
The DH vision outlines a shared purpose for health professionals, highlighting 'six Cs' that nurses exhibit when they are performing at their best: care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment. It also mentions various factors that hinder them from doing so.
It admits that staff lack time and support, face long shift patterns and are taking on demanding, expanded roles. But it does not pledge to invest in boosting nurse numbers, nor to prevent the ongoing cull of frontline clinicians. It agrees that standardising competency is an important issue but does not state that it aims to regulate healthcare assistants or advanced nurses. It is not accompanied by new funding, nor are there specified recruitment targets for disciplines under threat, such as district nursing.
It is an admirable vision. But the challenge will be turning this into reality and delivering it in practice. Contribute your views via www.commissioningboard.nhs.uk