Universal health coverage cannot be achieved without a strong nursing workforce, a parliamentary report has found.
A new report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Global Health argues that the UK can, and must, play a leading role in supporting the development of nursing globally.
The report is in answer to a global agreement signed in September 2015 to ensure that everyone in the world has access to health care.
The report states: “Nurses are by far the largest part of the professional health workforce and achieving universal health coverage globally will depend on them being able to use their knowledge and skills to the full.
However, the report adds that nurses “are too often undervalued and their contribution underestimated.”
The APPG also argues that increasing the number of nurses, and developing the workforce, will also have a positive impact on improving gender equality and supporting economic growth.
Dr Daniel Poulter MP, APPG chair, said: “Nurses make an invaluable contribution to caring for patients all over the world and can often be the sole providers of healthcare for many people in lower and middle income countries.”
“This report makes strong recommendations about how Britain can better develop and expand upon the valuable contribution made by the nursing workforce to improving global health.”
The APPG is urging the Government to work with the Commonwealth, Europe, the World Health Organisation and others to take a leading role in raising awareness of the potential of nursing, creating political commitment, and establishing a process for supporting the development of nursing globally.
The report draws together evidence from around the world about the lives of nurses.
Nurses have shared their concerns about staffing problems, poor facilities and inadequate education, training and support, resulting in poor quality care.
Furthermore, nurses report that they are frequently not permitted to practise to the full extent of their competence and have too few opportunities to develop leadership skills and influence wider policy.
It draws on engagement with nurses and their colleagues, research and meetings with policy- makers and other experts with experience from around the world.
Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “This report is significant because it clearly sets out the far-reaching benefits of properly investing in nursing.
“Nurses are the backbone of the health service, with experience and expertise that can drive improvements, but too often they are ignored.
“This report makes abundantly clear that the nursing workforce should not be seen as a cost to be managed or reduced, but an investment in our future health, economic prosperity and gender equality.”