Commission News

Front Line Care video

Monday 22nd March, 2010

If no video appears above, you can download it here and view it on your machine.

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Prime Minister welcomes Commission’s report

Tuesday 2nd March, 2010

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has welcomed the Commission’s final report, the culmination of a year-long review during which nurses, midwives, members of the public and other stakeholders shared their views on the future of the professions.

Commission Chair Ann Keen presented the report, Front line care: Report by the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery in England, to Mr Brown during a meeting at Downing Street on 2 March 2010. He thanked the Commissioners for their hard work, and extended his thanks to everyone who contributed.

The Commission was established in March 2009 to explore how the nursing and midwifery professions could take a central role in the design and delivery of 21st century services in England. It built on Lord Darzi’s 2008 report of the NHS Next Stage Review, High Quality Care for All, and considered all branches of nursing as well as midwifery, in all settings, services and sectors within and outside the NHS.

This is the first overarching review of nursing and midwifery in England since the Committee on Nursing chaired by Asa Briggs, now Lord Briggs of Lewes, reported in 1972.

This report endorses important existing directions of travel and identifies new ones, and where necessary proposes to accelerate the pace of change. It adds new thinking about how best nursing and midwifery can support service users, families and local communities.

The Government has committed to a full Government response in due course.

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Prime Minister hosts round-table discussion

Wednesday 3rd February, 2010

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, supported by Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham and Under Secretary of State for Health Services and Commission Chair Ann Keen, has hosted a round-table discussion with a group of about 30 nurses and midwives.

The Prime Minister was keen to hear from nurses and midwives about their views on what the future holds for them in their professions.

Coming from a variety of fields of practice and specialities, and working in a range of care settings, the midwives and nurses shared their views about the challenges and opportunities that the future holds. They also shared innovations and improvements that they had been involved with in their practice.

A number of students were also involved in the discussion.

The Prime Minister said in greeting the delegates: “I know that nurses are the heart of the Health Service. I know that we depend upon our nursing professions for the advances that we are making healthcare, and I know that this commission is our affirmation of faith in the future of nursing and how nursing can transform the Health Service in the years ahead.”

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Listening event video

Thursday 7th January, 2010

The Commission has produced a video outlining the Hot Topics and vision that we tested during our second phase. Following the National Listening Event held in London, the feedback we received is being considered as we write up the Commission’s final report. Watch it now:

If you can’t see the video above, you can download it and watch it on your computer.

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Degrees of caring

Thursday 10th December, 2009

Dawn ChapmanFor Dawn Chapman, going back to school opened new doors in her nursing career: “I’ve had the most exciting last few years as a result of choosing, in my fifties, to get a degree.”

After completing her State Registered Nurse (SRN) training in 1971, Dawn went to work and by the 1990s was a ward sister managing a 66-bed unit. At the end of the decade, she changed her job and became a Nurse Practitioner at Cambridge’s Addenbrookes Hospital’s breast unit, training under two consultants and examining symptomatic patients. Her expertise in breast examination was put to good use in reducing waiting times.

In preparation for the new role, Dawn attended an A11 breast examination course at London’s City University and this experience, along with the Project 2000 initiative, prompted her to enrol for a B.Sc in Women’s Health.

“It was hard work, studying and attending courses in the evenings after a day in the breast unit. But I’d decided I wanted to become a nurse consultant – and I was passionate about my studies and my work,” she said.

In 2006, Dawn became a Nurse Consultant – one of only a handful in the country – and again went back to her books, this time enrolling at Anglia Ruskin University for a Masters course: “It wasn’t easy but it has given me standing and credibility”.

Since becoming a nurse consultant in 2006, she works autonomously in the clinic for new symptomatic patients leading a team of six clinical nurse specialists. Her role also encompasses audit and research, and a recent study showed that the service has been well received by patients.

She was involved in Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s Left in the Dark campaign and continues to be their nurse advisor. She was named Surgical Nurse of the Year in 2001 by Nursing Standard and Oncology Nurse of the Year in 2007. She was awarded an MBE for services to nursing and breast cancer in 2009.

“The breakthrough for me was becoming involved in the Left in the Dark campaign. My studies have also given me the confidence to run a course at masters level to train a 100 Nurse Practitioners from across the country in breast and axillary examination. The knowledge I gained through my studies underpinned my ability to be one of the facilitators for this ‘Advanced Clinical practice for Breast practitioners course,” Dawn said.

As a result of her experience with returning to studying, Dawn is now a passionate advocate for nurses studying further. While she recognises that not everyone is suited, either academically or by nature, to registering for a Masters degree, she believes in developing nurses’ potential to the full.

“There used to be a bad attitude towards nurses: they were just nurses. In the last decade or so, nurses have realised that, to keep up, a degree is very useful. Studying helps nurses realise that they should question and understand why they are doing things.

Dawn says that for too long the focus of nurses’ training was on how to do things, but that this is changing towards why things are done in certain ways. She believes nurses constructively questioning their role and knowledge strengthens their expertise and standing and makes them a more dynamic and integral part of the health services team.

She also feels that returning to studying later in a nurse’s career creates a powerful incentive to remain in the nursing profession and contribute to healthcare.

“What I have learned through going back to studying has earned me respect from colleagues and patients and the knowledge and confidence has changed consultants’ and patients’ attitudes.

“It is a privilege to work with patients and I know I can make a difference. I love getting to know patients who have undergone breast cancer treatment and seeing them whenever they visit the hospital”.

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Nursing and the economic downturn

Wednesday 18th November, 2009

Peter Carter chairing the meeting, with Commissioner Anne Marie Rafferty on the far left. Photo courtesy of RCN

Peter Carter chairing the meeting, with Commissioner Anne Marie Rafferty on the far left. Photo courtesy of RCN


The economic downturn presents not only challenges but also opportunities for nurses, according to leading thinkers and policy experts. Nurses should focus on achieving best value – and use the opportunity to position themselves as quality champions.

These messages were discussed at a round table on nursing and the economic downturn hosted by the Royal College of Nursing on 25 August. The conclusions have been presented to the Prime Minister’s Commission to inform its discussions on the socioeconomic case for nursing and midwifery.

The round table was chaired by RCN chief executive and Commissioner Peter Carter and facilitated by journalist John Carvel. Participants included experts from the Care Quality Commission, the King’s Fund, London Rebuilding, the London School of Economics, the NHS Confederation and Reform. Commissioner Anne Marie Rafferty, expert adviser Jim Buchan and support office joint lead Jane Salvage also participated for the Commission.

They debated what history tells us about the impact of economic crises on nursing and health care, and whether the current downturn will be different. They looked at the short, medium and long-term threats and opportunities, and at strategies and recommendations.

The current health policy focus on quality and the shift of service settings away from hospital and into the home, Dr Carter said, could create significant opportunities for nurses to be at the cutting edge of introducing new ways of delivering care – provided that better incentives were provided for practitioners and organisations.

RCN: Downturn could be greatest threat to nursing in living memory

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Listening to the next generation

Wednesday 4th November, 2009

Twycross zoo is the most unusual venue the Commission has visited in its quest to gather views on the future of nursing and midwifery. But monkey business wasn’t on the agenda and there weren’t any gorillas on the invitation list; instead we were talking to about 80 East Midlands young people regarding their experiences with nurses and their view of nursing as a career choice.

With ages ranging from five to eighteen, the delegates were divided into older and younger groups and while the youngsters were engaged about their perceptions of nursing, the older group was free to explore the zoo in the morning. After lunch, the groups swapped arenas.

Many of the children at the event – in both groups – have spent time in hospital and were asked, among other topics, how they viewed nurses. The younger group were asked to draw their perception of nurses while the older group talked of their interactions with nurses while ill. This group were also asked about nursing as a career option.

Organised by East Midlands Strategic Health Authority and a small working group, the children’s event was addressed by Commission Chair Ann Keen MP, who stressed how important young people are to the future of nursing and midwifery.

The day itself was run by facilitators from the Leicestershire Young People’s Council, who ensured things ran smoothly. The participants each left with a gift pack and tickets to return to the zoo with their families.

A “10 Downing Street” letterbox was set up so that the young people could write to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, expressing their views on the future of nursing and midwifery. Ann Keen promised that a group of the delegates would be given the opportunity to present the letters the Prime Minister in person at a later date.

The views gathered during the day will be put to nurses and health visitors at a later event for their opinions and will be reviewed by the Commission.

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Commission discusses public comments

Friday 30th October, 2009

Reflecting on views from the public and professionals, and considering how it will formulate its report, were major topics discussed at the Commission’s fifth meeting.

The commissioners met in London on 23 October, the day after a national deliberative event where they listened to a range of opinions on nursing and midwifery in England. Health service users, new mothers (and babies), nurses, midwives and members of the public told commissioners what they thought of the commission’s vision for the future. They also commented on the 10 hot topics on which commissioners are seeking fresh thinking and innovative solutions.

At their own meeting, commissioners also exchanged views on what they have been hearing during the series of listening events hosted by Strategic Health Authorities in each English region. One emerging issue was the fact that the public is not always fully aware of the range of nurses’ and midwives’ roles and how they have changed to reflect current health knowledge and needs.

Commissioners agreed how to structure the report that they will launch by next March. As well as a written text in a traditional format, its key messages will be communicated to different audiences using a variety of media and formats, to reach as many people as possible.

Finally, the commissioners discussed the main system barriers and forces that prevent nurses and midwives from fulfilling their full potential. They agreed that the biggest impact in future will come from relocating care from hospitals to home and community settings.

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National listening event

Thursday 29th October, 2009

Ann Keen MP, chair, and Commissioners listened attentively during a national listening event held in London on 22 October 2009. Delegates were asked for their views on the hot topics and themes that have emerged from the Commission’s Second Phase.

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Commission sets out future

Friday 2nd October, 2009

A vision that will allow nurses and midwives to transform quality of care has been set out by the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery. Commissioners have also identified ten hot topics that they wish to probe and debate further such as the need to address the confusion over roles and titles of nurses and midwives, and the role of nurses and midwives in putting users of health services in charge of their own care.

Health Minister and Commission Chair Ann Keen said:

“We have had an overwhelming response to the first stage of our crucial work in shaping the future of nursing and midwifery and received over 2,500 individual and organisational responses reflecting the views of many thousands of people.

“The Commission has reflected on these responses and identified some hot topics that we want to hear more views on during the autumn. As a nurse, I believe these issues go to the very heart of shaping the future of our profession and I look forward to hearing detailed suggestions on how we can tackle them which will help shape the detail of our report.”

Read the Summary vision and add your views.
Read the Hot topics and add your views.

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