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Choices and challenges - The strategy for research and development in nursing and midwifery in Scotland

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Choices and challenges

Foreword from the Minister for Health and Community Care

The Health Plan for NHSScotland, Our National Health: a plan for action, a plan for change, places a high priority on the need to secure service improvements that are underpinned by evidence-based practice.

Nurses and midwives form the workforce that provides the greatest proportion of direct care to service users. They have a significant impact not only on the outcomes of care and treatment, but also on service-users' and carers' perceptions of the care experience. It is therefore vital that nursing and midwifery practice is based on a robust knowledge and evidence base, a theme that consistently arose during the consultation process for the development of our strategy for nursing and midwifery in Scotland, Caring for Scotland.

Nurses and midwives have a proud record in producing high-quality research within multidisciplinary and uni-professional contexts, and Scotland has made a significant contribution to health services research at home and internationally over the last four decades. But it is clear that the great potential of nurses and midwives as producers and consumers of research is not being fully realised, and that they now need the support and infrastructure to move forward as research and evidence-based professions.

This strategy for research and development paves the way for nurses and midwives to make that move. It reflects the crucial role they play in delivering services that are based not on historical precedent, individual preference or whim, but on sound evidence. It reinforces their importance in spearheading high-quality, research-based practice. And it lays the foundation for them to contribute to NHSScotland in new, different and clinically effective ways.

The strategy is based on wide consultation within and outwith Scotland, involving not only nurses and midwives, but also colleagues from many different health care professions. The result is a document that can justifiably claim wide consensus across the health and health care sectors.

The strategy parallels a raft of initiatives from the Scottish Executive in relation to nursing and midwifery recruitment and retention, education, and career development. These initiatives are aimed at making NHSScotland a world-class service provider, and will help the Executive meet its aspiration of improving the health and wellbeing of the people of Scotland.

Nursing and midwifery services that are based on research evidence and which are supported by a sound research infrastructure give us the solid foundation we need to achieve our objectives for NHSScotland. I commend this strategy for research and development in nursing and midwifery to you.

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Malcolm Chisholm, MSP
Minister for Health and Community Care