Perceptions of Nursing and Midwifery

Celebrating Nursing and Midwifery Leadership in Prevention

Supporting a radical upgrade in prevention #AllourHealth

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Celebrating Nursing and Midwifery Leadership in Prevention

Written by Jamie Waterall - Associate Deputy Chief Nurse and National Lead for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Public Health England

Nurses and midwives have been at the forefront of public health for many decades. Ask any member of the public to name an iconic nurse leader and many will name Florence Nightingale.  What most people are unaware of is Nightingale’s important contribution to public health. Whilst nursing in the Crimean War, she discovered that more soldiers died in hospital from preventable communicable diseases than their battle wounds. These findings were illustrated in her Rose Diagrams, which later led to significant health reforms, which changed hospital sanitation and reduced many avoidable deaths. This pioneering nurse and statistician and was more than a lady with a lamp!

I have the frequent pleasure of meeting many modern day ‘Nightingales’, who recognise the importance of addressing the major preventable causes of premature death, ill health and health inequalities. However, some colleagues I meet do not always make an immediate link to how they can contribute to the prevention agenda. This is why Public Health England has introduced All Our Health. This framework allows all professional colleagues to explore important public health topics which are most relevant to their sphere of work. For example, a school nurse may want to look at the chapters focused on childhood obesity and early adolescence, while a general practice nurse may want to explore the resources related to smoking and tobacco or the NHS Health Check. What is clear is that we need the entire health and care workforce to play their role in ‘getting serious about prevention’ if we want to collectively make a difference.

Why is prevention important?  

Did you know that two thirds of premature deaths -  that is deaths before the age of 75 - could be prevented by addressing key public health issues such as a obesity, smoking, high blood pressure and drug and alcohol misuse?  The NHS Five Year Forward View and Public Health England’s From Evidence into Action call for a much greater focus on prevention. This is critical for various reasons. We know that the burden of preventable disease negatively impacts on many people’s lives and also threatens the sustainability of England’s health and social care services. It is estimated that if the public were fully involved in managing their health and engaged in prevention activities £30 billion could be saved.

The NHS Five Year Forward View describes the NHS as a social movement, recognising that collectively and cumulatively, we can help shift power to patients and citizens, strengthen communities, improve health and wellbeing, and as a by-product, help moderate rising demands on the NHS and social care.

It is time for health and care professionals to act to make a difference. As health and care professionals we have relationships with individual people, families and communities and reach across all ages and all places.  This means that there is a huge opportunity ‘for health promoting practice’ to make a difference to health outcomes and health inequalities.  In addition acting collectively we can be a force for change in building a culture of health and wellbeing in our society.

Introducing All Our Health

With over a million health and care professionals working across England and an estimated 363,000 nurses, midwives and health visitors, we can act as a powerful force for change. This is why Public Health England is leading a ‘call to action’ for all health and care professionals to embed and extend prevention, health protection and promotion of wellbeing and resilience into everyday practice. All Our Health brings together priority topics to help address the major factors causing premature death, ill health and health inequalities. The framework includes tools and resources to support health and care professionals, with quick links to evidence and impact measures and top tips on what works.

Topics Included in All Our Health

Healthy beginnings

Childhood obesity

Child oral health

Early adolescence

Sexual and reproductive health and HIV

Workplace health

NHS Health Check

Respiratory health

Liver Disease


Smoking and tobacco

Adult Obesity


Physical activity

Antimicrobial Resistance



Pressure ulcers

Placed-based services of   care

All Our Health can also support continuing professional development (CPD) and revalidation for many professionals. The framework has been developed in conjunction with health and care professionals and importantly forms part of the first three commitments in the new national nursing, midwifery and care staff framework, ‘Leading Change, Adding Value’.

Get involved today

Getting involved is really simple as this resource is free to use and designed to provide professional colleagues with brief summaries, therefore not taking much of your time to work through a particular topic of interest. The site includes infographics for those who like to learn visually and many helpful and practical resources. The NHS engages with over a million patients every 36 hours across the UK. If every health and care professional could commit to supporting one area detailed in this framework, the impact across the system would be transformational. We already know that many thousands of professionals have started to use this new framework but we need even more to make a difference. Together, we can support people to live longer and healthier lives, and also contribute to reducing the demands on health and care services for the future.

Start making a difference now by visiting our All Our Health

Jamie Waterall Jan 3, 2018

Keen to hear peoples thoughts on how we get nurses and midwives more engaged with the prevention agenda. All ideas welcome


Wendy Nicholson 11 months ago

Thanks Jamie - it's important to see prevention and public health getting a mention; clearly from my work I focus on getting the foundations right within early years and throughout a young persons life. Working with health visitors and school nurses to use evidence and measuring impact to show the different from eat,y help - all our health is a great tool to support local delivery and commissioning


Lynnette Leman 8 months ago

Status label added: 6. Inspiring & supportive Lead