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We are fast approaching what looks to be a challenging winter across health and social care. How we act now could have huge consequences for people right across social care, and we are taking swift action to bolster the sector, with new leadership at the helm.
Since becoming the minister for care in February I’ve worked closely with the chief nursing officer, Ruth May, and have seen how important her work is for the wider NHS workforce. It’s time social care had the same.
The value of having a senior nurse supporting social care at the centre has also been made abundantly clear to me over the last few months thanks to former chief nursing officer Jane Cummings, who has stepped in to boost the DHSC social care team, bringing invaluable experience and expertise.
So I was really pleased to be able to announce the new role as part of our adult social care winter plan, and the process for finding our new chief nurse for social care has now been launched.
“I know they will be a leader for the social care nursing workforce”
The chief nurse will be right at the heart of our care system, leading from the front not only to keep staff and residents safe this winter, but also when we come to implement our social care reforms that will last long into the future.
I know they will be a leader for the social care nursing workforce, and they will play a vital part in our fight against coronavirus this winter through advice and leadership on priorities like infection prevention and control, and workforce resilience.
I’ve seen how Ruth May champions the NHS workforce and I want to see the chief nurse work with me to champion and raise the profile of nursing in social care – and going beyond nurses, raise the recognition and appreciation of all our care workers in the sector.
There’s no time to waste, which is why we are looking to appoint a chief nurse on an interim basis at first to get someone in place as quickly as possible.
They will join our growing team working on social care, and no doubt will work closely with our chief social workers, as well as alongside Ruth May.
And to be clear, this role is not just for Covid – it’s about building our social care system for the future as well as the here and now.
This important role is now open for applications and I would like to encourage anyone who has the passion, capability and enthusiasm to lead the social care sector to apply.
The pandemic has proved, beyond doubt, that the frontline of our battle to contain the virus and, more broadly, to keep our population safe and well, is not located only in our hospitals, clinics and GP practices. It’s in our care homes, hospices and community settings too.
The new chief nurse for social care, once appointed, will make sure we never forget that fact – and nor should we.
Helen Whately is the minister of state for care and Conservative MP for Faversham and Mid Kent