HNNS Update

Head of the Naval Nursing Service Update

In the latest issue of the QARNNS Newsletter, Head of the Naval Nursing Service, Capt Steve Spencer QHNS RN, updates the branch on his priorities for the Service.

Clinical ‘Fitness for Role’.

You may remember I wrote to all of you in January about the work we are doing to ensure you are as well prepared as possible in clinical terms for your operational role and this will be the main focus this year. The Defence Nursing Adviser is leading work to develop better guidance on the amount of clinical time and the level of practice required. This includes consideration of experience and an individual’s career development as well as factors such as whether they occupy a staff role. The Specialist Nurse Advisers are developing pathways for each specialty. These will give clearer guidance on how individuals should develop within specialty especially in the years after qualifying in their chosen specialty. Work is also underway to convert all of this into a Statement of Requirement to Defence Medical Group to ensure the placement strategy is able to deliver the roles required. We have been, and remain, consistently successful on Operations but we need to continue to ensure we are as well prepared as possible.


Mental Health Nurse recruiting and retention.

The Mental Health (MH) Nursing Cadre could almost be described as having become victims of their own success. Last year their value was recognised by then NAVSEC, now Second Sea Lord, who directed that they should be included in the ‘Grow the Navy’ plan. This means we have increased the number of MH billets from 19 to 25. Unfortunately we have had some PVRs, which means we are now quite short and need to ensure we retain those we have and recruit more. We have taken a number of steps to improve recruitment and MH Nurses are the main medical priority for the recruiters. The work of the MH teams goes largely unseen and unremarked for obvious reasons but their contribution to ensuring Naval Service Personnel are ‘fit to fight’ is clear and the need for more is clear recognition of this. I visited the Departments of Community Mental Health in both Portsmouth and Plymouth last month and they are doing remarkable work under significant pressure and whilst significantly undermanned. 


The new revalidation process has now commenced and you should all be familiar with it and how it will operate within the Defence Medical Services. I am confident we are well prepared for this across Defence and do not anticipate problems but it is a major step for the Nursing profession and we need to make sure we give it due attention and ensure all are appropriately supported to successfully achieve revalidation.  

Another issue I need to start considering this year is the QARNNS Strategy. The current strategy runs until 2018 but we need to start thinking about it now. I am keen to involve all ranks and rates in the process and will be seeking volunteers later in the year.

Finally, I would like to add a reminder about the next QARNNS Symposium. You should all be aware the dates have changed and it will now be the 15-16 Nov at HMS Collingwood. The guest will be Commandant General Royal Marines and the theme is ‘Advancing Practice’. I am keen to hear from people about how they have advanced their practice, not just by undertaking courses but also through experience and reflection. Lt Cornhill has volunteered to organise this year’s event and if you feel you can contribute then please contact her.

Captain Steve Spencer QHNS

DACOS Health and HNNS

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