The commission on widening participation in nursing and midwifery education and careers

The aim of the commission was to maximise opportunities to participate in nursing and midwifery education and careers.

Foreword by the Chief Nursing Officer

Efforts on widening participation to education and careers have been relatively successful in nursing and, perhaps to a slightly lesser extent, midwifery in recent years. However, in common with the rest of the UK and internationally. Scotland nevertheless faces challenges in recruiting to the professions at a time when we are rich in people, both young and experienced, who want to become nurses and midwives.

The most sensible and productive way to address this issue was to bring together a wide-ranging Commission, comprising representatives from all interested stakeholders, to review the current situation in Scotland and elsewhere, evaluate the evidence on what approaches to widening participation in the nursing and midwifery professions work (and which do not), and come up with some recommendations for us to consider as we move this agenda forward.

The aim was to ensure the right numbers of people with the requisite qualities and competencies enter nursing and midwifery education, complete their courses then enjoy long and satisfying careers as registered practitioners in the NHS and/or social care sector (particularly in remote and rural locations and in care homes) in Scotland. Although the Commission has sought to surface and, where possible, address concerns, importantly the focus has also been on identifying what we are doing well in Scotland and how we can build on this.

More broadly, the Scottish Government has committed to taking measures to ensure that the entire workforce in Scotland, including young people, is equipped with the skills they need to find meaningful employment in today's economy; and to widen access to higher education. Given these wider policy imperatives, it was also vital for the Commission to define more clearly how the nursing and midwifery professions are currently contributing to these wider employability and higher education agendas and to reflect on what their contribution needs to be in the future.

The Commission would need strong and committed leadership to guide it through what would inevitably involve some challenging discussions. No one is better placed to do so than Professor Paul Martin. As a registered nurse, health visitor and midwife, former NHS chief executive, distinguished Chief Nursing Officer for Scotland and now Depute Principal at the University of the West of Scotland, Professor Martin has the service, policy and education experience and insight needed to undertake this challenging but vital task. He also has the personal qualities to bring people together in common cause, provide the licence and encouragement to allow stakeholders to think ambitiously and, ultimately, support people to develop a shared idea to shape the path ahead.

I was delighted that Professor Martin accepted my invitation to chair the Commission, and thank him, his project team, the Commission's Stakeholder Group and the wider agents who engaged with the work for delivering a clear, evidence-based case for widening participation in nursing and midwifery education and careers in Scotland.

Professor Fiona McQueen
Chief Nursing Officer
Scottish Government


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