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 Chair of the Commission

As Scotland reshapes its health and social care services to meet the changing needs of its people there are, and will continue to be, changes in the required competency, capability and capacity of the workforce to support these new and different services. However, at the heart of any care provision will be the role of nurses and midwives. This does not exclude them from the change agenda. Indeed, many of the changes are driven by growing recognition of the impact of quality care on outcomes for people who need this support. Where a nurse or midwife is needed and where they add value is exactly where they should be. This therefore promotes person centredness – not just in direct care, but also in service construct.

It is therefore essential that as the demographics of Scotland change, we are positioned to respond with the right number of nurses and midwives, with the right skills, in the right place, doing the right things.

This Commission from the Chief Nursing Officer to explore the challenges and opportunities to encourage and support widening participation in nursing and midwifery education and careers could not be timelier. There are recognised pressures on flow into the health workforce. There are areas where nurses and midwives are difficult to recruit – not just by region, but in clinical and service specialties and, particularly, in care homes. Add to that a change agenda in health and social care, the repositioning of acute care, the age profile of the workforce and let's not forget Brexit, and it is clear there are pressures that need solutions now and, importantly, that plans are created and implemented for the future.

This report seeks to surface and where possible address some of these concerns. It should be read in the context of the wider health and social care and education agendas. The actions and recommendations will make a difference and encourage opportunity and flexibility, promoting participation in nursing and midwifery careers.

At the heart of this report rests an understanding of what nursing and midwifery offer as professions, careers or vocations. The opportunities are considerable and exciting, from the support worker to the nurse or midwife consultant, from the Higher National Certificate student to the doctoral studies student.

From staff nurse to executive nurse director or, indeed chief nursing officer level, nurses and midwives influence every corner and aspect of health and social care and are to be applauded for their efforts and commitment. This was evident in the student and early-career nurses and midwives who participated in the work of the Commission. They were indeed inspiring and if the future is in their hands, then I am grateful.

I would like to thank the members of the Commission and the project team for their patience and hard work and commend the observations and recommendations of the Commission to you.

Professor Paul Martin, CBE
Chair of the CNO Commission on Widening Participation in Nursing and Midwifery Education and Careers


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