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  • Writer's pictureChristie Roberts

The 7P's of nursing

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

Gotta hand it to nurses, we love alliteration. The Chief Nursing Officer for England, Ruth May, has today unveilled a new strategy for nurses, midwives and nursing associates (from now on, I'll refer to these professions as HCPs- but I'm referring specifically to these 3 professions). They are the 7P's. The first five are 'focus areas' whilst the last to are 'enablers of professional impact'- I'm not really sure what that actually means,... but it sounds good?

  • Protecting our planet- this will see HCPs champion sustainability, advocate for those most affected by climate change, and deliver evidence-based lower carbon care.

  • Prevention, protection, promotion, and reducing health inequalities- HCPs will maximise their professional contribution across the life course, with a focus on prevention, protection, and the wider determinants of health.

  • Person-centred practice- this will be placed at the heart of everything HCPs do, and is based on shared values to improve outcomes and empower people and communities to manage their health and care.

  • Public and patient safety- nursing and midwifery are safety-critical professions that are focused on quality, safety and creating a culture that empowers individuals to raise concerns and know they will be acted upon.

  • Professional leadership and integration- centred on HCPs using their unique roles across the life course to drive better integration that meets the needs of their patients and communities.

  • People and workforce development- HCPs will have varied and rewarding career pathways and benefit from lifelong learning. This is centred around prioritising the mental and physical health and wellbeing of the workforce to recognise the demanding physical and emotional work they do.

  • Professional culture- ensuring there is a culture that promotes inclusivity and values and champions evidence-based practice, digital and data, research, and the use of cutting-edge technology.

There's a lot of buzzwords scattered throughout this strategy- and rightly so. Things like empowerment, evidence-based, lifelong learning, safety-critical. These could be considered fundamental to healthcare, so I'm pleased to see them laid out explicitly. There's also some buzzwords that probably require clearer definition to enable HCPs to actually achieve them, like integration, lower carbon care, and professional impact.

Obviously, as a public health girlie, I LOVE to see public health reflected particularly in focus area 2. Ruth herself stated "the past few years made it abundantly clear that our professions play a critical public health role. However, there is much more that we should and can do to support people to have the best start in life and to live a longer, healthier and happier lives". So true bestie. We know how influential the social determinants of health can be (I was once told that 80% of health is determined by social determinants, and only 20% by health services), and how disproportionately affected pockets of the population are. We also know that the NHS needs to shift to prevention rather than cure if it intends to survive the next 10 years- this echoes Dept of Health and Social Care policy released in 2018 (Prevention is better than cure: our vision to help you live well for longer) whch focused on increasing healthy life expectancy an additional 5 years by 2035, and on closing the gap experienced between the richest and poorest. It also reflects what Prof Sir Michael Marmot (my hero) has been saying for years, since Fair Society Healthy Lives in 2010. So I, for one, am pleased that this is being more widely represented within nursing. I hope I'm not the only one.

It's not clear to me whether these are intended to replace the 6C's, introduced by the previous CNO Jane Cummings in 2012. The 6C's of nursing are:

  • Care

  • Compassion

  • Competence

  • Communication

  • Courage

  • Commitment

I personally think the 6C's are relevant, and important, but ultimately a bit woolly and the sort of thing you'd expect as a bare minimum from a nurse? However, the 6C's are described as values and I think could compliment the 7P's, which are described as focus areas and enablers of professional impact. They're more directive, and reflect modern healthcare priorities and challenges. In tandem, I think the 6C's and 7P's cover a lot of what is needed for high-quality, safe and sustainable healthcare.

At the moment, it's a strategy that knows where it's going, but doesn't seem to know how it's going to get there. We're waiting on some commitments from NHS England in 2024 to help us answer that- expect performance indicators, measurable outcomes and hopefully some action plans. Given that we had a new secretary for health and social care appointed this week, it's been stated that the 'final version of the more detailed strategy has not been signed off', so keep your eyes peeled for that. Who knows when that will happen, as she's inherited somewhat of a binfire in health and social care and probably has plenty to be getting on with, like addressing ongoing industrial action and trying to get a handle on huge treatment waiting lists, amongst a litany of other missed targets.

One thing is for sure- it's another thing to brush up on before applying for a healthcare course or a post-registration job.


Christie x

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