The four chief nursing officers (CNOs) in the UK have created a mandate to increase joint working across the four countries.
One the second day of the Florence Nightingale Conference held in London last week, Hilary Garrett, NHS director of nurse commissioning and health improvement; Jean White, CNO Wales; Fiona McQueen, CNO Scotland; and Charlotte McArdle, CNO Northern Ireland, presented delegates with a mandate outlining seven commitments for nurses across the UK. These were supported by 10 key principles to underpin the nursing and midwifery mandate.
The statements in the mandate aim to unify the four countries and meet the population needs for each country. The statements commit nurses to put people at the heart of care, drive forward prevention, promote and maintain population health and generate and lead research. The mandate is still in the first-draft stage and will be adapted based on nursing feedback.
The presentation was followed by a group discussion among delegates, who had mixed views on the mandate. Many of the nurses questioned the context in which the mandate was created and were unclear on the wording of some of the commitments. They also questioned where it would fit into the wider nursing agenda, which already followed the Code and the 6Cs. Delegate discussion also raised concerns on how outcomes and success rates would be measured.
'Perhaps it should have been subject to consultation from nurses, seeing as it is written for us. These commitments seem very wordy and are difficult to commit to memory, which is surely the point of this,' said one nurse.
'It is unclear whether the mandate is for working nurses, or for the CNO's as a kind of mission statement to inspire them. If it's the second one, then I think it's a very good thing,' said another.
However, the delegates appreciated that joint working was needed between the four countries, but the general feeling was that the mandate needed to articulate more tangible outcomes, such as staffing and pay.
Speaking to Independent Nurse, CNO Wales Ms White said: 'This is the first time that the mandate has been shown to anyone. We will have a look at the feedback but it seems as though there is an appetite for something to unify the four countries.
'We need to remember that this is a largely English audience, things like the 6Cs do not apply [in Wales, Scotland and Ireland]. We have health devolution and we need to make sure that nurses are unified across all four countries. We will take the feedback on board, take the conversation to other audiences and go from there.'