Royal College of Nursing. Questions raised at the RCN annual general meeting 2018. 2018. (accessed 30 April 2019)

Global Nursing Now

09 May 2019
Volume 28 · Issue 9

A programme from the Burdett Trust for Nursing, run in collaboration with the World Health Organization and the International Council of Nurses (ICN), the Nursing Now campaign ( aims to raise the status as well as the profile of our profession. The 3-year campaign will run to the end of 2020, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. Nursing Now aims to progress perceptions of nurses, improve their influence and maximise the contributions that nurses make to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to high-quality health and health care. Bringing nursing to the forefront of thinking on global health and empowering nurses to do even more in improving health locally, nationally and globally are key to the aspiration of universal health coverage.

The campaign points out that nurses are often undervalued and unable to use their skills and knowledge to the full, notwithstanding that globally nurses (and midwives), account for half the health professional workforce, providing 90% of the care given by professionals. Strengthening nursing can have a threefold impact of improving health, promoting gender equity and contributing to economic development and lending support to other Sustainable Development Goals.

There are five areas that the campaign addresses in order to persuade countries and organisations to strengthen and develop their nursing workforce. These focus on the contribution that nursing can make to universal health coverage, publicising evidence about the impact of nursing, ensuring more nurses are involved in policy making and leadership roles, contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals and sharing good practice in innovative new ways of working, from clinical skills to education and employment.

The Nursing Now campaign has a two-part strategy: first to influence policy and investment globally, ensuring that global policy on, for example, non-communicable diseases and universal health coverage accurately reflects the nursing contribution, and, second, to support groups who are working nationally and regionally to develop nursing and midwifery in their countries and regions.

Throughout the campaign the focus will be on nursing, and it has taken as its definition of a nurse someone who has had a professional education and is registered in their own country. The Nursing Now campaign recognises the importance of multidisciplinary team working and advocates for the need to invest in and strengthen the health workforce as a whole. Furthermore, there are very close associations between nursing and midwifery and the campaign addresses issues of concern to midwives where there is an overlap with nursing and where, as in a number of countries, they are the same people.

One item on the agenda for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Congress in May is a debate on whether the RCN would be more influential for nursing and health globally if it re-joined the ICN. In 2013, RCN members voted in favour of a resolution permitting withdrawal from the ICN—the extraordinary general meeting at Congress was carried by a 91.7% majority. The RCN was disappointed with discussions over the membership fees paid to the ICN; at the time, RCN fees contributed 16% of the ICN's subscription income, about £600 000 in 2012 (RCN, 2018). The concerns seemed to be about receiving value for money. There are hopes that the RCN will re-join the ICN following changes to its funding structure.

Regardless of whether the RCN does renew its membership of the ICN, individual nurses are encouraged to get behind the Nursing Now campaign and strengthen the role and commitment that nurses have in ensuring that there is universal health coverage that is led by and delivered by nurses. There have been so many developments in the long history of nursing that have resulted in a positive impact on patients, their families and communities, locally, nationally and globally and there will, undeniably, be many more to come.