Nurses should 'stand up and be counted' and 'shout from the rooftops' for the work that they do, said Jane Cummings, NHS England's chief nursing officer.
Ms Cummings, giving the keynote speech at the chief nursing officer's summit in Birmingham on 1 December, said that nurses also need to continue to keep up their high standard of work. 'Yes you can roar,' she said, 'but it is also about that little voice that says "keep plugging away".
In her speech, the chief nursing officer detailed the developments that have been made over the past few years in the NHS and the nursing profession. She spoke about the changing nature of safeguarding, and how nurses will be affected by changes to society. 'Safeguarding used to just be about looking after children, the elderly, and vulnerable adults,' said Ms Cummings. 'Now it's about female genital mutilation, now it's about child sexual exploitation. We will have to look after refugees and asylum seekers. The government's prevent strategy (to combat radicalism) and the Goddard enquiry (into historical cases of child sex abuse) will have significant implications for our profession.'
The theme of the summit was 'creating value'. This means giving the best possible care to patients in the most efficient way possible. She spoke about variations in care across the country, and how patients in one area might receive all checks for diabetes, but are unable to have their COPD assessed properly, while the opposite was true in other areas. 'We need to think about how we improve this variation,' Ms Cummings said. 'And think about we can use our 500,000 nurses to do that.'
Other subjects covered in the speech included the 6Cs and the role of BME nurses in the NHS. Ms Cummings said more needed to be done to improve the profile of BME nurses' adding that there is 'no point in reporting these facts without acting on them.' She also stated that there was an 'overwhelming consensus' that the 6Cs should be kept and not seen as a 'three year phase.'
Ms Cummings summed up her speech by reiterating that all nurses needed to remember that their role was about 'providing the right care, to the right person, in a way that makes a difference to the patient.'