Beverly Malone: Nursing is the backbone of the healthcare workforce

From a speech by the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, given at London’s City University
I have come here tonight to talk to you about the fragile future of nursing. We face many challenges in making sure that the foundations of nursing are built on stone – and not on sand. But first we have to ask ourselves – does it matter whether nursing has a future or not?

I have come here tonight to talk to you about the fragile future of nursing. We face many challenges in making sure that the foundations of nursing are built on stone – and not on sand. But first we have to ask ourselves – does it matter whether nursing has a future or not?

Because it is the health of individuals and communities which matters most. I believe we will only get health care right by putting patients, the people who use health services, at the heart of the system. As recent events in Warrington show, while we cannot draw conclusions about the entire NHS from just one situation, we must equally accept that all the improvement in the world does not compensate an individual for a negative experience of healthcare services.

The system has to serve patients needs, not vice versa, providing quality care, treatment and information. We must take account of the perceptions and experiences of patients. We have to consider, on the eve of a general election with health high on the agenda, whether there are enough nurses to make that goal of a patient-centred health service a reality – and whether we are on the right track in nurturing and educating the nursing staff of tomorrow.

As nurses, we have to be clever, articulate and determined as well as caring. Strong and visible nursing leadership is part of effective nursing care. Patients still respect nurses and, more than ever, they expect us to speak up on behalf of patient care, wherever we work and whatever our role.

The return of “matron” – as a modern nurse – has been in large part due to pressure from the public. That is why I am so clear that the family of nursing will continue to be the backbone of the healthcare workforce. And why I believe that if nursing didn’t already exist, people would be rushing to invent it.
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/beverly-malone-nursing-is-the-backbone-of-the-healthcare-workforce-527947.html

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