NHS England has announced today that Duncan Burton has been appointed to the role of Chief Nursing Officer for England and Executive Director at NHS England.

The chief nursing officer for England (CNO) is supported by the chief midwifery officer, four deputy chief nursing officers, and seven regional chief nurses. He is responsible for providing clinical and professional leadership for all nurses, midwives and nursing associates across health and social care in England, including the 373,000 nurses and midwives who work for the NHS and who make up the largest group of the total NHS workforce, as well as the nurses working in public health and those in the independent sector.

He also provides clinical and workforce advice to the NHS and the board of NHS England, and to ministers and officials in the Department of Health and Social Care on relevant issues.

A workforce that is fit for the future – ensuring the right teams are in place is crucial to the delivery of the Long Term Plan. To achieve this, we need to:

  • Recruit and retain enough people with the skills required.
  • Build places of work that are rewarding, positive and filled with opportunity.
  • Develop the quality of our management and leadership at every level.
  • Tackle inequality and break down the barriers that are preventing too many from reaching their potential.
  • Create an infrastructure that enables more volunteers to support our front-line staff.

Responding to the announcement, Alison Morton, iHV CEO said:

“The Institute of Health Visiting joins with others across the family of nursing in congratulating Duncan on his appointment as the new CNO for England, and we offer him our ongoing support as he picks up the mantle to lead the nursing profession in England into the future. There is no denying that Duncan is taking on this most senior role in nursing at a time of great challenge in almost every part of the health and care system – however, it is also a time of great opportunity for our profession that requires courageous leadership.

“At the iHV, we have worked closely with Duncan for many years – he has shown himself to be a man of integrity, collegiate by nature, and with the ambition and drive for excellence across all areas of nursing that is very much needed at this time. He is also a staunch advocate for babies, children and families and recognises the important role that health visitors play in improving the nation’s health. Duncan has shown that he understands the scale of the task that lies ahead and is ready to rise to the challenge. Congratulations Duncan!

“We also want to thank Dame Ruth May for her incredible leadership during her five-year tenure as CNO. Ruth has been tireless in her efforts in putting people first and skilfully navigating our profession during some turbulent years. We wish her every success for the future! Thank you, Ruth!”

Chief Nursing Officer for England, Dame Ruth May, visited the Birmingham Forward Steps (BFS) health visiting hub to mark its first full year supporting communities in the city.

Image credit: Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

The hub provides a single point of access for those seeking advice from a health visitor, saving Birmingham parents, carers and families precious time and making it easier for NHS professionals to provide real-time advice to those most in need.

Claire Paintain, children and families divisional director at Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (BCHC), said:

“We are immensely proud to showcase the great work of the health visiting hub and our Birmingham Forward Steps health visiting teams.

“Dame Ruth saw our innovative approach to supporting our district teams, with the introduction of specialist health visitor roles such as ‘temporary accommodation’ and ‘strengthening families’ that support families and children who are most in need.

“Dame Ruth’s visit demonstrates BCHC leading by example to help improve the wellbeing of parents and carers across the Birmingham community.”

During the visit, Dame Ruth saw how all incoming unplanned and additional referrals, queries, and concerns have been centralised, allowing district teams to better focus on the mandated child health programme and meet the needs of the most vulnerable.

She also saw that a high bar for excellence has been set in Birmingham, with calls answered inside an average of three minutes.

Dame Ruth May said:

“It was fantastic to visit Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and to meet the health visiting team.

“The service offered by the hub and the introduction of specialist health visitor roles helps people to have quick and easy access to the right advice and support, which is so important.

“It was great to learn more about the specialist support the team provides to meet the needs of families and communities in Birmingham.”

Currently being piloted in Erdington, Sutton Coldfield, Selly Oak and Ladywood, plans are in place to have all Birmingham areas and families supported by the hub service by the end of summer 2024.

The Health Visiting Hub

Open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, the health visiting (HV) hub provides a single point of access for parents, carers and professionals seeking advice from a health visitor.
Launched in January 2024, it currently covers four areas of Ladywood, Sutton Coldfield, Erdington and Selly Oak with plans to include the remaining six districts services this year.
A central team of admin and health visitors handle unplanned work, releasing clinical teams for planned work. The hub focuses on providing a simplified, integrated system of a single point of access for Birmingham – offering faster response rates to parents, partners and other stakeholders.

Dr Ruth May has been announced as the new chief nursing officer (CNO) for NHS England – she will take over from Professor Jane Cummings.

Dr Ruth May, new chief nursing officer (CNO) for England

Dr May is currently executive director of nursing for NHS Improvement, but will become the new CNO for England once the management teams for NHS England and NHS Improvement have completed their merger into one new leadership team, called the NHS Executive Group.

Her appointment was welcomed by Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director iHV, who said:

“I am delighted to hear of the appointment of Ruth May as Chief Nurse in NHS England. The Institute will look forward to working with her moving forwards.”