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Culture change necessary to stop 'box ticking' practices

Nursing culture has to change if nurses are to move away from public health responsibilities becoming “box ticking exercises”, said the government's Director of Nursing.

In an exclusive interview with NiP, Viv Bennett said a culture change is needed to enable nurses to begin asking 'healthy' people the “difficult questions” about their lifestyle.

Training courses aimed at building a nurse's resilience for when their advice is ignored by patients is also lacking, Bennett claimed.

“As well as nurses having to continue to be very good as rescuing people, they also need to try to bring prevention into every thing they do,” she said.

“Practice nurses have to strike the right balance between treating patients who are ill and stopping people from getting ill.”

Bennett said there is also a need to better educate the public to show them nurses are not just there to help them when they get sick.

Thanks to nursing education embracing public health and the role of prevention “much more so than before”, Bennett claims the pace of this much-needed culture change is quickening.

While Bennett said the government's commitment to recruit an extra 4,200 health visitors by 2015 is “on track”, there are fears the focus on health visitors could lead to a divide in public health nursing.

Recent reports show school nurses risk being “poached” to fill health visitor positions and multi-disciplinary nursing teams face being disbanded to provide jobs for the new recruits.

Sandra Grieve, Chair of the Royal College of Nursing's (RCN) Public Health Forum, told NiP the college is “working hard” to ensure all nurses have a role in public health and that the extra emphasis on health visitors will not serve to be “divisive” to the nursing community.

By Louise Naughton

Question: Do you fear the government's focus on health visitors recruitment will divide public health nursing?