Why Quality Matters to me?
Interview with Professor Elizabeth Robb O.B.E, Non-Executive Director and Chair of Clinical Governance
How long have you been a nurse and a midwife?
I qualified as a nurse in 1975 after completing my training at Guy’s Hospital in London. I then went onto qualify as a midwife in 1976. I am still a registered nurse and midwife, as I feel this is part of what defines me.
What do you think about the Revalidation process?
I think it’s a useful tool for all nurses and midwives. Having been through it myself recently I found the process engaging and found it to be a real opportunity for people to focus their minds and reconnect with the values they hold dear and what’s important to them.
Revalidation not only provides benefits for you as a nurse or midwife but also to the people you care for. It encourages a culture of sharing, reflection and improvement and will be an ongoing process throughout your career.
What has been the biggest change in nursing since you joined the profession?
Oh gosh…it’s difficult to say really. In some ways, I don’t think that the nursing profession has changed. The nursing profession is true to its values, and this is one of the things I teach during my facilitation with junior staff.
Post the Frances Report, the values that underpin nursing and midwifery are still similar and relevant today. However, in the wake of the Frances Report, some people have said nurses have lost their compassion, but I don’t believe that. In my career the nurses and midwives I have come across have sometimes found themselves in difficult situations. On occasions, I think nurses have lost resilience and the ability to challenge the status quo.
This is why revalidation is an excellent opportunity to really test one’s own resilience and practice mindfulness – And stand up for what we as nurses and midwives believe in.
What is the biggest challenge for the nursing profession looking ahead?
Well I believe there are a number of challenges facing the nursing profession including a growing population of patients who are older and more acutely ill, and as technology advances, so do our career roles. With the growth of Social media and use of the Internet and smartphones, our ways of learning and communicating are changing.
We also have a lot of vacancies in nursing and with the increasing demand on our services this gap is only getting bigger and so to tackle this workforce challenge it’s going to be tough. Meanwhile, what we can do is continue to invest in recruiting new nurses of the highest calibre, trained and equipped with the appropriate skills and keeping people in the profession.
In order for policymakers to plan for the future, it is first necessary for nurses to also have a voice in policy and delivery as nurses play a key role in patient care and have direct 24-hour contact with patients – so let’s involve them more in the process.
As an instrumental component of the healthcare workforce, the nursing profession must keep pace with changes in the healthcare environment to ensure the continued delivery of high quality, safe, and effective patient care.
Why does quality matter to you?
Because we are in the health care profession. It is what we do and is the fundamental principle and driving force behind everything that we do.
The NHS already delivers high quality care to patients in many respects, but I agree with Lord Darzi that we need to continue the NHS journey of improvements and move towards improving the quality of care of our patients – so not only focusing on outcomes but also the patient experience, which is equally important.
We know from research and patient feedback, it is the quality of that care that really matters. People want to know they will receive effective treatment. They want care that is personal to them, and to be shown compassion, dignity and respect by those caring for them. And whilst most people recognise hospitals and nurses are under huge pressures, they also look to the person looking after them for comfort.
And this is why revalidation exists – to improve patient safety by ensuring individuals continue to remain fit to practice in line with the requirements of the profession and to improve patient experience through reflection and feedback.
What is your advice to nurses in their careers?
Nursing is a profession that can be both rewarding and challenging at the same time. But never be complacent and use reflection as everyday practice to encourage you to incorporate the NMC Code in your day-to-day practice and personal development.
I recently used quotes at a conference from Doug Ivester retired Chairman of Coca Cola and then from Florence Nightingale
“never let your memories be greater than your dreams…”
“If you are not learning you are not progressing. Being a professional means learning every day, every week, every year to take practice forward.”
In my view these are good mantras to use in professional life!