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Prizegiving for Clinical Excellence in Nursing

MidCentral DHB prizegiving for Clinical Excellence in Nursing

Venue: Education Centre Hall, MidCentral Health, Palmerston North. Health Minister Annette King helped celebrate the second MidCentral DHB annual prizegiving for clinical excellence in nursing.

Thank you to Professor Jenny Carryer for your comments. It is not at all surprising with the sort of leadership that you provide that MidCentral DHB should be establishing such a reputation for this region as a centre of excellence for nursing.

That reputation is one reason I am so pleased to have been asked here today to help celebrate the second MidCentral DHB annual prizegiving for clinical excellence in nursing.

The other reason is that one of the best parts of being Health Minister is the opportunity it gives me to rub shoulders with people who have a passion for innovation and quality in health services. Events like this make me feel genuinely proud of New Zealand's health professionals.

Last year, at your inaugural awards, the Ministry of Health's Chief Advisor Nursing Frances Hughes was your guest speaker. I know how impressed she was at the outstanding contributions recognised by the awards last year, and I am sure I will feel exactly the same way this year.

If the nursing profession is to reach anything like its potential in New Zealand, it will continue to need strong leadership from individual nurses, from nursing organisations and from a wider health sector committed to advancing nursing's role in health care.

Such strong leadership is encouragingly evident at MidCentral Health. I have already thanked Jenny, and I will say more about her position later, but thank you also to MidCentral chair Ian Wilson, who is unable to be here today, to chief executive Murray Georgel and to general manager Lois Hutchins for sponsoring an environment that supports the development of nursing excellence.

In particular, I want to thank MidCentral for the enthusiasm with which it is developing Magnet nursing principles in this region.

The Magnet journey may take some time, but I am optimistic that Magnet accreditation will become a powerful tool for retaining and recruiting our nursing workforce in New Zealand, not just in hospitals, but also right across DHB activities.

There is strong evidence showing that adopting magnet principles improves organisational culture, and while that is good for all staff, including nurses, of course, it is also good for patients in terms of their outcomes.

That is why I believe magnet hospital principles can play such a strong role in the Improving Quality Strategy.

MidCentral DHB has a history of vision and innovation in nursing, with one special highlight the 2003 Health Innovation Award you won for your programme known as Hospital in the Home, which has involved virtual hospital wards springing up across the region to provide medical care to chronically-ill patients in the privacy and comfort of their own homes.

The response to that programme has been resoundingly positive from patients and health professionals, with one patient summing up the care as: "Just great, the whole thing is awesome." I am sure patients will think the same way about some of today's awards.

It is not at all surprising that MidCentral is building such a history of nursing leadership given its decision to establish a joint Clinical Chair with Massey University, an appointment filled by Jenny, of course. Jenny has made the most of her position to drive an innovative approach to nursing generally.

MidCentral continues to make a strong investment in the professional development of nurses, and some of that investment has certainly paid off also in today's awards. I want to mention one area of leadership in particular, the development of nurse practitioners.

The DHB has two practising nurse practitioners and three to four more close to applying. As there are only 11 nationally, to have two already in this region is good going, although Jenny would dearly love to see more.

I know Jenny is tireless in advocating for the nurse practitioner role, and long may she continue to be passionate in this respect.

I also want to acknowledge today the contributions of Jenny and Nursing Director Sue Wood in leading the integration of primary and secondary nursing toward a continuum of care.

As I am sure you know, MidCentral was one of eleven recipients that received Primary Health Care Innovation Funding. What I would like to applaud you for is that you have gone significantly further by establishing a major primary nursing team to integrate services in primary and secondary care. I am talking here of your Primary Health Clinical Governance Council. The work that the council has begun in terms of developing shared guidelines, standards and policy will be an example to others on how to ensure more seamless services between primary and secondary care.

Here again we see your ability to work collaboratively for the benefit of people in your care.

With nurse specialists from the hospital, practice nurses, other primary care nurses and nurses working in residential care services, all working towards integration of services, I am sure that this will improve peoples' access to services, their quality of life and their satisfaction with the care they receive.

Today we are honouring not only the award winners, but also the success of all the nominees for getting so far, and all those people who are behind each success. Between you, you have all contributed to the culture of quality, innovation and excellence that is the hallmark of these awards.

Today's prize giving is unusual because, for the first time, awards are being presented to both the private and the public sectors. This is only a beginning, but it is a wonderful outcome already to all the work that has gone in so far into establishing collaborative links with your community.

There are many such opportunities for collaboration in nursing in the public and private sectors, in areas like general practice, Primary Health Organisations, screening, and, of course, in the integration of primary and secondary care generally. I look forward to hearing of many more such examples.

We are all striving to build a culture that facilitates and encourages quality health care and quality improvements. One significant way in which we can help build this culture is by applauding achievement and excellence.

The awards today not only recognise the public and private sectors, but also both nursing study and nursing practice, marking successful completion of Masters and other postgraduate qualifications as well as outstanding contributions in clinical excellence.

These awards are all about a diversity of nursing achievement in terms of leadership, research and innovation. I am told the first awards last year were a resounding success in terms of creating tremendous positive energy around nursing.

I am sure this didn't happen just because people naturally enjoy having their achievements recognised. It would also have happened because people find it satisfying and rewarding working together to create a healthier New Zealand. That, in essence, is the spirit that underlies the Primary Health Care Strategy.

A strong economy is certainly helping the Government invest more in health. We are funding more treatments in the public health sector than there has been before, and making primary healthcare more affordable and accessible than it has probably ever been, but we are not going to benefit as much as we could from doing those things if we don't work together to ensure we keep making progress on our health priorities.

Today's award giving is significant. There are firm links between postgraduate study and excellence in nursing practice, between quality nursing practice and safe and satisfying patient outcomes.

As I said at the start, one of the fun parts of my job as Health Minister is being in on the ground floor in terms of launching innovative projects.

That's not quite the case here, as I could not attend last year's inaugural awards, but I certainly regard this as one of those fun occasions anyway, having the opportunity to be part of an innovative approach that leads the country.

These awards demonstrate a cross-section of the wonderful nursing work happening in this region, and, above all, represent a commitment to MidCentral's communities.

I warmly congratulate all the award winners. You can be proud of your achievements, and I am sure MidCentral is proud to recognise you. Thank you.


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