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The pressures of November – Jane Cummings

As we prepare for the winter months and the demands they can bring for the NHS, nurses and health care assistants, we need to continue doing all that we can to avoid unnecessary re-admissions to hospital and eliminate harm to our patients and service users as we continue to strive to deliver the best possible compassionate care.

It is timely that, with November comes ‘Stop the Pressure’ month.

Throughout the month we will take the opportunity to celebrate the achievements to date at a national level in reducing pressure ulcers and will look at how we can share examples from across England, where the greatest improvements have been seen.

The ‘Stop the Pressure’ Campaign was launched in 2012 by Ruth May, Regional Chief Nurse for the Midlands and East Region.

In the first year after the campaign was launched, there was a 50 per cent reduction in new pressure ulcers across the Midlands and East region. This was largely delivered by raising awareness of the causes via an extensive communications strategy, understanding and identifying the early warning signs, taking earlier preventative steps as part of SSKIN and using the NHS Safety Thermometer.

Based on the success achieved through the campaign in its first year, and with the support of NHS England, the Midlands and East team led a national ‘test’ roll out between October 2013 and March 2014 in conjunction with NHS IQ and Haelo.

The results highlighted the importance of maintaining focus on this issue, working collaboratively and the positive results that can be achieved.

Additionally almost 2,000 student nurses have been able to access the latest knowledge, research and techniques through the delivery of a series of student nurse conferences. Subsequently a small number of students across the country are working closely with the Stop the Pressure campaign to take a lead role and spread their learning and good practice tips with their nursing colleagues and fellow students.

There are many great examples to learn from; the PU Web Path and the ‘Love Great Skin’ initiative led by Wounds UK and NHS England which is underway in the care homes sector.

As positive as this is, there is still much more to do and I am confident that we can continue making significant improvements in this area.

It will require individuals and organisations to communicate and work together to achieve our goal of eliminating avoidable pressure ulcers. We have already gained the support of a range of organisations and professional bodies including the Royal College of Nursing, the Tissue Viability Society, NHS IQ and Nursing Times.

I will personally be focusing on this issue at my CNO Summit later this month, with 500 senior leaders from across health and social care to discuss what we as senior leaders can do to maintain focus, educate and support our nurses and health care assistants to continue this excellent work.

I call upon every senior nurse leader to make this a priority focus with their teams throughout November to support us in raising awareness even further about pressure ulcer prevention and treatment, and in improving the experience of everyone in our care this winter.

Each week of November has a specific focus on pressure ulcer prevention activity; risk assessment, prevention, treatment and audit and review.

During each week there will be opportunities to get involved in a wide range of different activities. Details can be found on the Stop the Pressure website. Please visit the website and take the opportunity to read about some of the work that is happening across the country, consider what else you can do to work towards this in hospitals, care homes, acute wards, and please share your initiatives and results so they can be shared with others.

November 20th is ‘World Stop Pressure Ulcer Day’ and a one day conference is planned with the theme of “What’s your Contribution”. This event is being supported by the RCN and will be hosted at its London headquarters. Key speakers include Dr Mike Durkin, NHS England’s Director of Patient Safety, and Ruth May, Regional Chief Nurse, NHS England, Midlands and East.

I would like to say a huge thank you to all our nurses and health care assistants, who are working in a variety of health and care environments, for their unwavering commitment and hard work for this profession. I am very proud to lead such an amazing group of professionals. So please remember, no matter how busy it becomes over the next few months, this is one area where we can continue to really make a difference.

Jane Cummings, NHS England’s Chief Nursing Officer.

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