Department of Health and Social Care
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Call for nurses, midwives and health service boards to restate their commitment to high quality care

Call for nurses, midwives and health service boards to restate their commitment to high quality care

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 02 March 2010

Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery in England sets out the way forward for the future of the professions.

Nurses and midwives must renew their pledge to society to deliver high quality, compassionate care – and must be better supported to do so by their employers, according to a new report on the future of nursing and midwifery in England published today.

The Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery in England believes that a strong statement of commitment to high quality care from all concerned would help to restore public trust. Front-line staff and their employers should state how nurses and midwives will enact their values of compassion, maintain their competence, and become champions of care in hospitals and the community.

Ann Keen, Chair of the Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery said:

“Nurses and midwives are the lifeblood of the NHS and have always been at the heart of good health care. As a nurse, I know their great power and potential to improve the experiences of patients and influence the standard of care in a wide range of settings.

“The Commission is clear that high quality, safe and compassionate care must rise to the top of the agenda for a 21st century world-class NHS. Nurses and midwives must renew their pledge to deliver this and employers must take responsibility for supporting them in this.

“If we are to build on the successes of the NHS and improve health and wellbeing, then we must ensure that nurses and midwives take their proper place as valued professionals at the heart of health care - delivering, leading and shaping care now and for future generations.”

The Commission warns that this issue must move to the top of the NHS agenda in the challenging times ahead. Among its 20 recommendations, it highlights the need to prepare nurses to meet the growing need for highly skilled care for people with long-term conditions and the complex needs of ageing.

It sees nurses as centre stage to deliver this care, both in hospitals and in people’s homes, but they must be properly equipped and supported to do so. It also stresses the importance of skilled midwifery to meet the challenges of a rising birth rate and persistent health inequalities.

The Commission reached these conclusions following an extensive engagement exercise with the public, service users, staff and other stakeholders.

The Commission said:

“As was proposed to us, we want a future where patients, relatives and carers are at the centre of service development and design, and compassionate care is delivered by technically competent nurses and midwives who maintain a person's dignity. This is the key to a positive experience for service users.”

Last year the Prime Minister asked the Commission to advise him on how to build the future of health care, and give nurses and midwives a bigger say in service design and leadership as well as care delivery. The Commission proposes a number of specific ways to bring this about.

One key proposal is that ward sisters, charge nurses and equivalent team leaders in the community and midwifery should be restored to their former traditional positions of authority as visible care champions. To do so they need optimum support and training.

The Commission makes it clear that responsibility for high quality and compassionate care starts at the front line and goes right up to board level. To ensure accountability all boards should include a Director of Nursing.

The report highlights that these recommendations will help the largest group of registered professionals in the NHS to maximize their contribution to health and wellbeing.

Notes to Editors:

1. For media enquires or interview bids please contact the Department of Health Press Office on 0207 210 5221

2. For a copy of the report ‘Front-line Care: the future of nursing and midwifery in England’ and a full list of the Commission’s recommendations, please visit the Commission’s website at

3. The Prime Minister launched the Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery in England on March 10, 2009. It covers England only, and considers midwifery and all branches of nursing, in all settings, services and sectors. The PM asked the Commission to do the following:
- Identify the competencies, skills and support that frontline nurses and midwives
- Identify any barriers that impede the pivotal role that ward sisters/charge nurses/community team leaders provide.
- Identify the potential and benefits for nurses and midwives, particularly in primary and community care, of leading and managing their own services.
- Engage with the professions, patients and the public to identify challenges and opportunities for nurses and midwives.

4. The Commissioners are 20 leaders and experts in nursing and midwifery practice, management, education and research. For more information, please see the following link:

5. The Commission presented its report to Government on 2nd March.

6. The Government welcomed the report and committed to a full Government response in due course.


Department of Health
Phone: 020 7210 5221

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