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Comment: Educate to innovate

The last few years have been extraordinarily illuminating for nursing and its support workforce. We have seen many recommendations relating to nursing with reports from Willis, Francis, Cavendish and Berwick.

Reflecting on those reports, the recommendations fall into the following categories:

 - Recruitment.

 - Education and training for nurses and support workers.

 - The continual personal and professional development of our workforce supervision.

 - Supervision.

 - Support and leadership.

 - Involvement of patients and public in all areas.

We know that the UK faces major health and social care challenges over the coming years. The nursing and healthcare support workforce will have an instrumental role in meeting those challenges.

Health Education England's (HEE's) national workforce plan has committed to grow the nursing workforce. This is an exemplary shift in how the workforce and its relation to patient care is now viewed by providers. The shape of our workforce needs to reflect the needs of the population it serves. This will require a different approach to continuing professional development.

I believe we need to create flexible continuing professional development (CPD) frameworks that demonstrate the interchangeable competences of a truly multi-professional team. To do this we need to explore our learning needs through the eyes of the patient, not the lens of the professional. Given that there are around 600,000 nurses registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and that there are nearly 350,000 support workers employed by the NHS plus a larger number in social care, providing the majority of hands-on patient care, getting the education and training of this workforce will be crucial.

In my mind the recruitment, education, training and ongoing development of future nurses and the workforce needs to look and feel quite different. The starting point is values-based recruitment - at every stage, entry to university and recruitment to posts, making sure we have the right people with the right caring values and behaviours from the outset.

HEE has a number of significant work streams that are facilitating that change, which I am delighted to be leading as the Director of Nursing. These include: 
 - The significant growth in the workforce a result of our first national workforce plan.

 - Pre-nursing experience pilot.

 - Appropriate dementia training for all the workforce.

 - Care Certificate for support workers in health and social care.

 - Setting the vision for personalised maternity services.  

 - 'Return to nursing' campaign.

Never before has there been so much interest in the nursing profession, with all eyes upon it. We must seize every opportunity to lead and innovate with the care that we give. 

We are the touchstones for the patient and when we get it right, we know we can make such a difference to the people that we treat and care for.