This site is intended for health professionals only

“Nursing number one” at Nursing in Practice Events

Queen's Nursing Institute Director Rosemary Cook discusses the charity's campaign for nurses' health and wellbeing

Michael Mellor
Conference Producer
Nursing in Practice

Earlier this year, the Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI) launched a campaign to encourage nurses to improve their own health and wellbeing. Rosemary Cook, Director of the QNI, will be providing the keynote speech at the Nursing in Practice Event in Manchester on 20 May 2008. We asked her how the campaign had gone so far and discussed the later phases of the campaign, moving on from diet and exercise to mental health and domestic abuse.

The first phase of the campaign (launched in January) began because, in Rosemary Cook's words, nurses are "busier now than ever" and "struggle to find time for themselves - even just to have lunch." Though it seems counter-intuitive, skipping meals can lead to weight gain, as snacking often entails a higher calorific intake and a less balanced diet, with the body storing more food.

For the first part of the campaign, the QNI worked in partnership with the Oxford Health Alliance whose "3FOUR50" campaign targets healthy eating and drinking, smoking cessation and exercise, on the grounds that three risk factors - tobacco use, poor diet and lack of physical activity - contribute to four major diseases: heart disease; type II diabetes; lung disease; and many cancers, which are in turn the cause of 50% of deaths in the world.(1) The second phase of the campaign will probably be launched in the summer, and will focus on mental health, stress and coping.

The third phase, beginning in the autumn, will focus on violence, domestic abuse and personal safety. In this, the QNI will be partnered by the Alliance against Domestic Abuse, to provide toolkits, direct assistance and helplines.(2) As recent research by the Healthcare Commission Survey has shown, NHS workers are more at risk than most other professions, and health visitors in particular, frequently work and travel alone.(3) According to Rosemary, the background to this phase was a local project for health visitors to help women talk about domestic abuse, in the course of which many trainers were approached by nurses saying that they needed advice for themselves. Twenty-five percent of women have experienced domestic violence, and 90% of primary care nurses are female - as Rosemary says: the figures speak for themselves.
Rosemary also added that this is more than just a normal campaign to raise awareness, inasmuch as activities will be organised throughout the year, such as January's session of Nordic walking in Hyde Park. Nurses participating in the first phase were also provided with an exercise journal and pedometer to bring about actual changes in lifestyle.
The present campaign is only the latest manifestation of the Institute's long-term commitment to the holistic care of nurses, since it was founded more than 120 years ago; in the past, many nurses have been assisted with housing, cars and bicycles (in the early days of health visiting), and six nurses affected by flooding last summer were helped by the Institute.

While the QNI exists to link together community nurses who share a common high standard of practice, by awarding them with a shared title (for having demonstrated strong commitment to patient-centred values and continually improving practice), the message applies to all practice nurses. Traditionally, the QNI is thought of as catering for district nurses, but has been working more and more with nurses from other specialties such as mental health nurses, while 75% of those who became involved with the campaign were not previously known to the QNI.

For more information, visit or come along to hear Rosemary speak at Nursing in Practice Manchester on May 20. If you miss Rosemary's session, go to after the Event where you will find her presentation.


  1. The Oxford Health Alliance. Available from:
  2. Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence. Available from:
  3. Commission survey highlights "unacceptable" violence to NHS staff. Management in Practice online. Available from: