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Ruth May outlines plan to ‘strengthen’ nursing research

Chief nursing officer Ruth May


The chief nursing officer for England Ruth May has this week launched a ‘strategic plan’ to support nurses to lead, participate in and deliver research

The strategy, Making Research Matter, outlines her ambition to make England the ‘best place for nurses to lead, deliver and get involved’ in research in the coming years – and argues nursing ‘cannot sit still’ and ‘must continue to adapt to the complexities of modern healthcare’.

It aims to develop the future nurse leaders of research by offering ‘rewarding opportunities’ and ‘sustainable careers’ in the field. For example, it commits to designing a framework to enable seamless transition’ through a research-related career.

But it also set out plans to support all nurses to lead, use, deliver and participate in research as part of their job, and value the voice of the profession. This includes support healthcare organisations to understand the benefits of giving nursing staff time to devote to research.

In the foreword to the document, Ms May underlined the importance of research for ‘public benefit’ – such as improving public health and patient experience. Research should ‘reflect’ the priorities of patients, carers, service users, residents, the public and nurses, the plan said.

She wrote: ‘Research led by nurses and contributions they make as members of multidisciplinary research teams can drive change. It is the cornerstone of high-quality, evidence-based nursing.

‘I am a strong advocate for nurse-led research across health and social care, environments which embrace evidence-based practice, and establishing mechanisms to enhance research capacity across the profession,’ added the CNO.

The strategy also set out intentions to create a ‘digitally-enabled practice environment’ by working with NHSX on developing research leadership in digital technology and data science.

Overall, it vowed to develop a ‘co-ordinated’ and ‘consistent’ approach to research across England to help tackle variation and inequalities across the country.

NHS England said a ‘detailed implementation plan’ – developed with the profession, partners and the public – will come in Spring 2022, and set out what will be delivered in 2022 and 2023.

Also writing in the forward, Health Education England chief nurse Professor Mark Radford said it will help build a ‘range of coordinated years in the coming years to build a stronger research community’ and promises to ‘celebrate current successes’ and ‘move forward together’.

The framework, which is based on engagement and discussion with nurses, ‘recognises the inherent strengths’ in the academic and clinical academic nursing community’, he added.

The five themes underpinning the research plan

• Aligning nurse-led research with the public need
• Releasing nurses’ research potential
• Building the best research system
• Developing future nurse leaders of research
• Creating a digitally-enabled practice environment that supports nursing research.

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