International Nurses’ Day is celebrated each year on the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. Florence herself was described as a social reformer, a statistician and the founder of modern nursing - a blend of public health and nursing that led to huge improvement in outcomes.
This year, the theme for International Nurses’ Day (12th May) is ‘Nurses: a voice to lead – health is a human right.’ Whilst in the public health world we are well aware of the factors beyond health services and health care that impact on the right to health, we also know that universal health coverage and effective health care is a vital contribution to positive health outcomes. As we approach International Nurses' Day it is timely to consider how the nursing profession can lead change locally, nationally and globally to improve health in individuals, families and communities.
This blog describes some of the work we have been doing at Public Health England to support nurses, and other health and care professionals, both in England and globally. Nurses are the biggest professional health care group and our ambition at PHE has been to develop nursing practice at all levels and across all settings, encompassing preventing avoidable illness, protecting health and promoting wellbeing and resilience, as well as supporting nurses within PHE and across the health and care system to be leaders in this work.
All Our Health
All Our Health, PHE’s call to action for all health and care professionals to embed prevention and health improvement into their practice, has made great strides over the last year, reaching over 170,000 practitioners, adopted by 6 universities and trialled by 3 Trusts. This year we want to double this and reach a minimum of 200,000 practitioners, 12 universities and 6 Trusts. Each individual reached, or supporting organisation, can become a champion of the principles, helping those they care for make the best choices for their own health and wellbeing.
The resources created for All Our Health are designed to make it as easy as possible for a nurse or other practitioner to quickly build their knowledge on a topic they may not feel confident to make an intervention on. We also published some blogs to help health professionals develop their motivational conversation techniques or strengthen local lifestyle referral processes.
Leading Change, Adding Value
To encourage all nurses to take action as part of our commitment to the national nursing, midwifery and care staff framework, ‘Leading Change, Adding Value’, PHE recently made available a 3Ps toolkit (Prevent, Protect, Promote) setting out actions for nurses and nurse leaders on major challenges to health including:
- antimicrobial resistance
- cardiovascular disease
- creating a healthy health workforce
Best start in life
Ensuring children have the best start in life has been a priority for PHE since the start of our organisation’s work. Nurses and midwives are often the lead health care professional at the very start of life and can be a voice to lead on the rights of the child to the best start in life and to support families to reduce inequalities.
Nationally and internally we are leading a number of programmes to ensure that nurses can make the biggest possible difference. Whether it's protecting health through immunisation, aiming to prevent future health problems by encouraging positive and protective behaviours, such as good oral health, nutrition and physical activity, or promoting resilience and wellbeing through vital early attachment and development in the under-fives, intervening early where there are problems.
WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Nursing and Midwifery
Our international programme is carried out through our World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre, our relationships the International Council of Nurses and other partners and through the Global Nursing Now Campaign.
WHO Collaborating Centres exist to support the WHO's programmes, undertaking research and ensuring evidence and advice of the highest standard is shared to help raise standards everywhere. Since the establishment of the WHO Collaboarating Centre for Public Health Nursing and Midwifery within PHE last year, we have been working hard to establish a comprehensive network of technical advisers and academic support from across England. With this depth of experience and knowledge we have a powerful resource to call upon, enabling us to providing technical advice to national and international organisations.
We have also produced a case study/practice example template and already received 15 case studies and 10 practice examples to be reviewed for hosting on the PHE library service. There is also a network of nursing WHO Collaborating Centres around Europe and the World and this year has seen us forge important links and relationships with them.
Wherever a nurse works, in whatever role, they have the power to protect and promote health, to blend public health knowledge and nursing skills and to provide care and the voice that helps us to achieve health as a human right for all.
Happy International Nurses’ Day!