Posted by: ayrshirehealth | January 1, 2018

For just one day by @fionacmcqueen

You Had One Job… Professor Fiona McQueen

‘If you were Chief Nursing Officer for the day – what would you do?’

It’s a question I sometimes ask groups of nurses & midwives when I manage to engage them in conversation.  The answers vary greatly – and tend to be person specific.  I’m also keen to know what the one thing is that either stops nurses and midwives from doing a great job, or what one thing would make it easier for them to do a great job; again the answers are variable.

2030-nursing-visionThe launch of the Nursing Vision 2030  in July was essentially a compilation of people’s thoughts, hopes and dreams for how we support the profession to move forwards.  So for me making good progress on implementing the Vision would certainly be one thing for me to do in the coming year.

Supporting nurses to deliver personalised care in a compassionate and caring way is an easy thing to say, but much more complex to do, and the Vision sets out the direction of travel for the profession.    The three themes of:

  • Personalising Care,
  • Preparing Nurses for the Future and
  • Supporting Nurses

are interwoven in the Vision but set out clearly where we need to get to.

And whilst I know that more nurses is not always the answer to supporting the delivery of excellence in care, I recognise that without the right numbers of staff, with the right skills, high quality care is unlikely to be delivered.  So the government’s ambition to increase the numbers of student nurses and midwives by 2600 in this parliament is welcome.

CabSect.CNOAt the time of writing, the Cabinet Secretary had yet to announce the figures for student nurse and midwifery intakes for 2018/19, but at the moment, there have been five successive years where intakes have increased.

Widening Access

However we need to do more than our traditional way of increasing numbers of intakes into year one of our education programmes.  I’ve seen how important it is to support our HCSWs into nursing, and fretted about how to support people into nursing who may not have been our traditional go to people to come into the profession.  Which is why I commissioned Professor Paul Martin to look at widening participation in nursing & midwifery education and careers.  I had hoped that through Paul’s leadership we could have solid advice around how we build on what we currently do well, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed:

CNOWACOMThe Commission was published in early December and has some challenging recommendations, which I’m confident will stand the professions in good stead in the years to come.  It will open up the professions in many ways; both by supporting people into higher education who may not have traditionally studied at that level, and also by attracting people into the professions who are already graduates and are looking for a change.

Notably, there is significant work to be done in our Care Home settings – where the opportunity for professional growth and development is undervalued.

Looking back then on last year, in preparation for looking forwards, we’ve much to celebrate; preparation for our employer led midwifery supervision programme was launched and has been well received; our work on transforming roles is helping the professions to flex and change so that we can continue to support health improvement and deliver care, across a range of settings; and the work on safe staffing, whilst at times challenging, is moving forwards and will support the delivery of Excellence in Care – our improvement and assurance approach for nursing and midwifery care across Scotland.


2018From a service level perspective, regional plans are being developed, health and social care continues to integrate, and the Best Start has been launched- which is a real opportunity for midwives to support the next generation into better health.

However, if there is one job for me next year, it’s taking steps to support the improvement of the health of Scotland’s nurses and midwives.  In our consultation for the Vision, nurses themselves signalled that at times, challenges with their personal health and wellbeing got in the way of delivering the care they would want to deliver.  I know that there is an emotional cost of caring that is challenging for our professions – a bitter sweet aspect of our  practice – it’s what has often drawn us into the profession and makes it so special, but if not carefully managed, can cause burnout.

And as we age (gracefully I hope) our physical health at times can also take its toll.  Figures published earlier in the year highlight that the public health problem of obesity has left its mark on nurses and midwives – who suffer from obesity to a greater extent than the rest of the population.  So as I step forwards into a new year with new challenges,  health and wellbeing of the profession will be at the top of my list.

This blog was written by Professor Fiona C McQueen (@fionacmcqueen), Chief Nursing Officer for Scotland at the Scottish Government.

Post Script 31 December 2017, 19:00hrs.

Readers of this blog are most likely to be aware of how busy our services have been over the holiday period.  My Scottish Government Director colleagues, and others have been monitoring activity across Scotland, which has been higher than we would have expected.  Whilst we’ll have to wait for ‘official’ statistics, services across Scotland  are reporting people presenting with flu as well as other illnesses, which has been putting greater pressure than usual on our services. A number of us have been visiting sites to be with staff as they continue to deliver care to their patients.

Kieran nhsaaaThis morning I had the pleasure of visiting Ayr Hospital. On arriving at the main entrance, Kieran, one of the domestic team was taking a great pride in keeping the hospital spotless. I was blown away by his enthusiasm and pride for his job.

Visiting ED, ITU, the assessment unit as well as a number of wards, I was left in no doubt of the professionalism and dedication of the whole team; I met nurses, doctors, AHPs and others  – all giving of their best and taking a real pride in their work.

Entering a new year, I have no doubt the staff of NHS Scotland are the life blood of our service, and our soon to be 70 year old NHS is very safe in their hands.

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