Citius - Altius - Fortius
Joan Pons Laplana, RGN, Transformation Nurse, James Paget University Hospitals FT
Don’t wait for the things to change – you initiate change, you take the first step. It’s the only way to move from where we are to where we want to be.
Don't be the Cowardly Lion
Nursing is going through a period of enormous change that will affect the future of our profession. In recent months we have seen:
- The scrapping of the bursary scheme
- The proposal for a new nursing associate role
- Major problems with recruitment and retention
- The closure of the Department of Health’s nursing, midwifery and AHP policy advisory unit
- Conflict about safe staffing and Nursing ratios
But contrary to doctors and other staff groups, nurses are not roaring, nor trying to make our voice and concerns heard. I will like to see more debate: challenging should not be seen as an attack, rather an opportunity to listen and embrace diversity.
While it is highly unlikely we will get a collective voice as people have different views but, collectively, we should have the courage to have difficult conversations and embrace diversity. What worries me is that some of these Government decisions, such as the closure of the DH Unit, have been taken without any evidence or thought to the long-term outcome. Of course, this happens with other professions (for example, reduction in legal aid, reducing standards in teaching and policing), but shouldn’t we be preventing such drops in standards? It is true that there was a consultation regarding the bursary, but this was only on the best way to implement the cut, not whether or not it should be cut. These are big decision that will affect our profession, especially the front line.
Often we blame each other for the lack of response or involvement in defending our profession. But engagement is a two way system. Recently, NHS England and the RCN asked frontline nurses how we would like to inform in future; let’s hope they produce an effective and robust communication strategy following this. We need to develop a way of communicating which reflects both local and national views.
We all need to take more responsibility about our profession. It is in our Code of Conduct to do so. But we aren’t – not really; in 2015 the NHS Staff Survey across 297 NHS organisations received only 299,000 staff responses - approximately a quarter of the permanent NHS workforce in England. That is shocking – 75% of us did not bother to answer the survey but still we expect things to change. And if we drill down into those numbers, I suspect that very few responses were from Band 6 or below.
Obtaining feedback from staff, and taking account of their views and priorities, is vital for driving real service improvements in the NHS, unless we start answering and getting involved the situation will only get worse (see Deborah's editorial). It’s the same story when unions try to mobilise staff and call for action. The response is always very low.
Remember why you first joined the NHS? To save lives, help people, make things better. FabChange Day is coming on 19th October. It will be a good opportunity to get involve in shaping the future of our NHS. If each of us makes one small change, together we can change things for the better.
We all have a responsibility to take action. I would like to encourage everybody to break the walls that we have built around ourselves and come out of our comfort zone. We need to believe in ourselves and our potential - we are no different from our junior doctors or midwifery colleagues.
It is time to take responsibility and ask yourself what you can do to create a better NHS. Don’t wait for the things to change – you initiate change, you take the first step. It’s the only way to move from where we are to where we want to be. A little change can make a big difference. You are not alone.
2016 marks the centenary of the RCN; I have looked at its history and have seen that many issues nurses are facing today are historic – but what is important is to show progress, to recognise and value diversity in terms of our views and responses and be adaptable to inevitable change. Our profession has a good history of doing that.
This is not a battle between frontline and managers. Senior Leaders are not the enemy. We all want the same. It’s time to join forces and improve our communication and make sure we make our voice heard. We need to start talking to each other and more important we need to start listening and open a dialogue.
We need to bring back the Olympic spirit into our NHS and aspire to be Citius, Altius and Fortius. Each one of us has the responsibility to stand up for Nursing. It’s time to ROAR and make our voice heard.
That is shocking – 75% of us did not bother to answer the survey but still we expect things to change.