International Nurses Day

Date published: 12 May 2017

Blog on the work of the Nursing and Midwifery Task Group (NMTG)
by Sir Richard Barnett (Chair NMTG)

Sir Richard Barnett

As we celebrate International Nurses Day, I’m delighted to have this opportunity to offer my thanks and congratulations to you for the outstanding contributions that you make to people’s health and wellbeing. We celebrate International Nurses Day on the anniversary of the birth of the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale. But I have no doubt that she would be both proud and astounded at how the profession has developed since her pioneering days. Like all members of society, I have the greatest admiration for the work that you do and for the professionalism with which you carry out your demanding job.

It is for this reason that I was pleased to accept the invitation from the former Health Minister Michelle O’Neill to act as Lay Chair of the Nursing and Midwifery Task Group. I am joined on the group by 10 further members who between them have an extensive range of experience and expertise. But I want to emphasise at the outset that our recommendations will be co-produced both with you and with service users. In a very real sense, we are the facilitators of the forthcoming report.

As a group we have met monthly since last December and in line with the draft Programme for Government Framework, have agreed to use an outcomes based accountability (OBA) approach.  This means we will start with the outcome (ends) and work our way backwards with you to coproduce how we can achieve this (the means).   To do this, we will be focusing on indicators of the population’s health and wellbeing. In terms of the Programme for Government’s outcomes the key one for us is ‘We enjoy long, healthy, active lives’. Our central aim is to work with you to identify how nursing and midwifery can maximise its contribution to achieving this outcome.

As a means of structuring our work we are looking at two broad service areas to achieve this outcome:

  • Health promotion and the prevention of ill-heath
    How we can make a real impact in terms of working with the population to promote their health and wellbeing and reducing the occurrence of ill-health (mental and physical); and
  • The delivery of care within the HSC
    How we can maximise our contributions in primary, secondary and community care, wherever possible enabling patients to move towards leading long, healthy and active lives.

A key decision of the Task Group was to agree that to look at service outcomes alone is not sufficient. There must also be an outcome focusing on the nursing and midwifery workforce.  So, we have a further sub group which is looking solely at an outcome on:

  • Our workforce
    Focus on workforce needs to enable delivery of a world class service.

Our initial planning stage is almost complete and in line with our desire to facilitate a co-produced report we will shortly be commencing a series of workshops which will feed into the three subgroup areas that I have identified. We are keen that all voices are heard and are mindful that frontline staff are not always fully represented at such events - we are seeking to rectify this.

I want to emphasise that these upcoming workshops are your chance to influence the future direction of your profession. I am also confident that you will have some of the best ideas for how things can be improved.

I will commit to keeping you informed of the work of the Task Group as it progresses. In the meantime if you have any comments or observations please send them to:

Nursing and Midwifery Task Group Project Team
Department of Health
Room C4,
Castle Buildings


Once again, on this day of recognition for the significant contributions that you make – THANK YOU AND CONGRATULATIONS.

Sir Richard Barnett,
Nursing and Midwifery Task Group

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