Care: The gift that is always in season

Today is the day when many people will be returning to work after the festive season.

But for nurses, midwives and other care staff, the Christmas and New Year period does not bring a departure from our work. By following the Twitter hashtag #MyNHSChristmas, I was touched to see the many ways in which members of our professions demonstrated compassionate care and went the extra mile for patients and families over Christmas.

For some people, the season will have been far from festive, dealing with difficult news about their health or the loss of a loved one. Circumstances such as these are the times when the 6Cs, the values of our professions, come to the fore, despite the pressures so many of you face every day.

I am full of pride and praise for everything you achieve and recognise how hard people are working.

An NHS-trained nurse  delivered the alternative Christmas message on Channel 4. William Pooley caught and survived Ebola, and has now resumed his work of caring for Ebola patients in Africa. I was moved to hear William talk about the care he received from colleagues round the clock, and his description of his treatment as ‘the best available treatment’. One line from his speech particularly stood out: “When people need help, it is important that it is given”.

That one line sums up the heart of what a privilege and responsibility it is to be a caregiver in the NHS and care services.

2015 will see the continued progress of the Compassion in Practice strategy and the rolling-out of the NHS Five Year Forward View; developments which will bring about transforming opportunities for our professions.

Please keep on using Twitter this year to share the great work you are doing, which I always enjoy reading about and find so encouraging even when challenging.

Also, take a moment to think about how you can put examples forward for the monthly 6Cs Live! ‘6Cs in Action: Celebrating Excellence’ awards.

Thank you for everything you did in 2014, and best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.

Jane Cummings

Professor Jane Cummings is the Chief Nursing Officer for England and Executive Director at NHS England.

Jane specialised in emergency care and has held a wide variety of roles across the NHS including Director of Commissioning, Director of Nursing and Deputy Chief Executive.

In February 2004, she became the national lead for emergency care agreeing and implementing the 98% operational standard. She has also worked as the nursing advisor for emergency care. In January 2005, she was appointed as the National Implementation Director for ‘Choice’ and ‘Choose and Book’.

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

She was appointed as Chief Nursing Officer for England in March 2012 and started full time in June 2012. Jane 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 2012, followed by publishing the ‘Leading Change, Adding Value’ framework in May 2016.

Jane has executive oversight of maternity, patient experience, learning disability and, in January 2016, became executive lead for Patient and Public Participation.

She was awarded Doctorates by Edge Hill University and by Bucks New University, and she is a visiting professor at Kingston University and St George’s University, London.

She is also Director and 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.

Follow Jane on Twitter: @JaneMCummings.

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