Chief Nursing Officer for England

Dame Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, took up the post on 7 January 2019. The Chief Nursing Officer for England (CNO) is supported by three Deputy Chief Nursing Officers and seven Regional Chief Nurses working across the new NHS England regional footprint. In March 2019, the appointment of England’s first Chief Midwifery Officer, completed CNO’s senior leadership team.

Coinciding with Ruth’s appointment in January 2019 was the announcement of the NHS Long Term Plan.  The NHS Long Term Plan is a plan that responds to changes in society and health needs and nursing, midwifery and care staff have a pivotal role to play in its delivery.

Complementary to the Long Term Plan, the Chief Nursing Officer for England has set out three priorities:

A workforce that is fit for the future

Ensuring the right teams are in place is crucial to the delivery of the Plan. To achieve this, we need to:

  • Recruit and retain enough people with the skills required.
  • Build places of work that are rewarding, positive and filled with opportunity.
  • Develop the quality of our management and leadership at every level.
  • Tackle inequality and break down the barriers that are preventing too many from reaching their potential.
  • Create an infrastructure that enables more volunteers to support our front-line staff.

Renew the reputation of our profession for the future.

There is a need to firmly establish the value and highlight the importance of what the professions do and why. To tackle the embedded stereotypes about the roles, and raise the profile of the work nursing, midwifery and care staff do. The breadth of the role as nurses in prescribing, research and technical and clinical care is not understood enough. Nursing is a highly skilled, educated profession and includes extraordinarily skilled people and leaders.

#teamCNO – a collective voice that is powerful and heard.

As part of a wider commitment to recognising the value of nurses and midwives, Dame Ruth May launched the Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Midwifery Officer for England Awards at the CNO Summit 2019. There are two categories for these awards:

  • Silver award – recognising the contribution of nurses and midwives to patients and the profession which goes above and beyond.
  • Gold award – recognising the exceptional contribution of nurses and midwives with a distinguished career.

The healthcare and midwifery support workforce are also at the heart of our wards, clinics and local communities. Dame Ruth May launched new categories for both the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) and Chief Midwifery Officer (CMidO) awards for Healthcare support workers (HCSW) and maternity support workers (MSW) at the CNO Summit 2022.

These awards are based on healthcare support workers’ and maternity support workers’ demonstration of the NHS values as they undertake their roles.

Find out more about the awards and nominate.