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Leadership and change will bring us resilience – Professor Jane Cummings

In the second of a series of three blogs, the Chief Nursing Officer for England marks International Nurses Day:

‘A force for change, improving health systems’ resilience’ is the theme of International Nurses Day this year.

Some people may say the more things change, the more they stay the same. But nurses know this is not true. We mark International Nurses Day today because it is Florence Nightingale’s birthday, but we have changed and come a long way from caps, cuffs and capes.

We are now a workforce which, along with midwives, amounts to more than 530,000 Nursing and Midwifery Council registrants in England alone.

To live is to change. A profession that stands still cannot meet the challenges and demands of an ever-changing society.

The scale and pace of current changes undeniably bring pressures with them. I see this for myself on visits to hospitals, communities and educational institutes, as well as through events I attend and interactions on Twitter. But I also see teams and individuals dedicated to being adaptable and finding innovative solutions.

In recent months I have met nurses working to help people with learning disabilities in their transition from institutional to residential care, nurses using IT to help people self-manage their conditions, and nurses working with other clinicians and community services to deliver integrated care.

These ways of working are part of the changing health and care system. In these demanding and pressurised instances, nurses are setting an example not only for fellow nurses but for other health and care professions, and are demonstrating their contribution to leading effective change and empowering patients and people in an efficient way.

This will require action on many levels including new opportunities and responsibilities for health care practitioners both individually as practitioners and leaders, and collectively as a force for change in developing a ‘culture of health’ – a culture where prevention and supporting self-care are central to practice and leadership and contribute to improved outcomes and reduced health inequalities.

As well as the many types of health and care settings in England, nurses also demonstrate their resilience and adaptability in war zones and humanitarian situations, such as those who volunteered to work in areas affected by Ebola. They deserve our praise and gratitude.

The Compassion in Practice strategy of the past three years has demonstrated ways in which we can and do lead change. The strategy has delivered, among others, the development of an open and honest care programme for maternity services, a barometer for organisations to gauge their culture of care, published guidance on staffing, researched shift patterns and launched resources on how to raise concerns.

The progress we are making will continue with the launch of Leading Change, Adding Value which will be the subject of a blog next week. It means a lot to me that thousands of you participated in the engagement process which has helped us develop Leading Change, Adding Value.

With the 6Cs as our continuing value base, we have huge ambition and potential to deliver improved outcomes in partnership with the individuals and populations whom we care for.

I look forward to all the ways in which we can lead change together, and am as grateful as ever to be part of such a dynamic profession.

Thank you for all you do.


Jane Cummings - approvedJane Cummings is the Chief Nursing Officer for England.

Before progressing into general management she was previously a nurse specialising in Emergency Care and has held a wide variety of clinical and managerial roles including Director of Commissioning, Director of Nursing and Deputy Chief Executive.

In February 2014, she became the National Lead for emergency care which involved working closely with clinical colleagues and NHS managers to agree and implement the 98% operational standard. She has also worked as the nursing advisor for emergency care, and with the Royal College of Nursing to develop the role of nurses and improve the experience and care of patients requiring urgent and emergency care.

Jane moved to NHS North West in November 2007 where she held executive responsibility for the professional leadership of nursing, quality, performance, QIPP and commissioning. In October 2011, she was appointed the role of Chief Nurse for the North of England SHA Cluster.

She began the fulltime position of Chief Nursing Officer for England in June 2012 and is the professional lead for all nurses and midwives in England (with the exception of public health) and published the ‘6Cs’ and ‘Compassion in Practice’ in December of that year.

Jane is the NHS England national director sponsor for the programme to transform care for people with learning disabilities and chairs the delivery board. She is also the lead national director for maternity.

Jane was awarded a Doctorate by Edge Hill University and is a visiting professor at Kingston University and St George’s University, London.

She is also a trustee for Macmillan Cancer Support and a clinical Ambassador for the Over the Wall Children’s Charity where she volunteers as a nurse providing care for children affected by serious illnesses.

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2 comments

  1. Ray Richards says:

    Jane – delighted to read this. I agree that understanding how we can all embrace change is becoming critical for us personally and professionally. We believe the key is a switch from changing ‘thinking’ to changing ‘behaviour’ i.e. changing what we ‘do’ is more efficient at changing ‘thinking’ than the other way around because habits are an efficient blocker. You’d enjoy a conversation with my colleague Professor Ben Fletcher (see https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/do-something-different)

  2. kevin riley says:

    You continue to ignore ,quite disgracefully, the reality that none of your improvements can be guaranteed to be taken on board by the now legally independent NHS Foundation Trusts and their is nothing that NHS England can do to force them to do so.

    Sir David Nicholson confirmed the above reality when defending his inability to force these now “legally” independent Trusts to stop using “gagging clauses” – see the record of his evidence in this respect on the Health Select Committee Ctteee website.
    There is also the scandal that over 70% of total staffing costs in the NHS relate to non medical staff with less than 30% being spent on front line medical staff including nurses.

    Numerous “independent “studies including by at least one Select Committee have identified that patient safety is currently being put at risk becasue of the existing shortage of nurses.

    So your whole “blog” is not only meaningless but positively disingenuous – not least given the reality that you and the Department of Health have no direct role in the running of the NHS in any event since the legislative changes introduced in 2013.

    Kevin S. Riley Solicitor