Chief Nursing Officer
National Health Service

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Chris B

00:02 My name is Chris B I’m the chief nursing officer for England and I work for David Nicholson who is the chief executive of the NHS.

00:09 I’m the nurse that gives advice to government, I’m a sort of visible leader of the profession throughout the country, I work with a whole range of other nurses to make sure that nurses, midwives and allied health professionals are sort of integrated into government policy and I also have responsibility as a director general within the department, for children, family maternity policy and for reducing health care associated infections.

00:36 And I’ve been a practicing nurse a little while ago now but I’ve, that’s what I, where I come from. My father was in the civil service actually and my mother worked in the civil service for a little while but then fairly typically in those days was a housewife yeah.

00:50 I went to a grammar school in those days that’s where you know there was still the 11 plus when I was at school. It was always my ambition to be a nurse as, why I don’t know my family are not medical at all but when I was a small child I always wanted to be a nurse. Once I got, I did my O levels then what I did at A level was linked to nursing so, you know I did biology and I did actually history cos I was really interested in history and it wasn’t anything to do with nursing really but it’s cos I really loved it. So I did biology and chemistry and history at A level. And then as I got older and began to think of other careers I explored nursing more, in more depth and it, what I wanted to do early on seemed to be something that I wanted to pursue and so I did.

01:34 Well in those days if you wanted to be a nurse you applied when you were about 16 because to get into a London teaching hospital which is where I trained then, that’s what you did, so I applied and then I started my training when I was 18, it was great fun cos it was what I wanted to do, I was living in London you know and I came from Essex, quite a rural part of Essex.

01:55 I think what I really, really remember was that it was really hard physical work when I started nursing we were still scrubbing, sterilisers and I can remember thinking, you know a few months ago I was sitting in a classroom you know, perhaps writing an essay and now I’m scrubbing.

02:13 We lived in so, you know food and accommodation everything was sort of provided for us. I’ve always like working with people and I really liked working with patients, and so, you know that made up for it and, you know it was just a very interesting world really.

02:28 But I left to get married and have my family, I’ve got 3 sons and, when I left it was sort of made really clear to me that I’d chosen a man above nursing really and you know there probably would not be a way back into the career so that’s, that was a little while back and really I didn’t nurse for then for 10 years.

02:49 I came back really not thinking I was going to have, I didn’t come back with a plan I was going to take my career forward, clearly my children were a bit older and I was interested in nursing and I came back into community services as a district nurse I knew very little about them because we did very little community service when I was in my training and I sort of fell into district nursing, loved every minute of it and then I began to get interested in what’s the next step, having broader areas of influence, and, that’s been the pathway from there to now.

03:21 My roles went from if you like a professional role just being concerned around nursing, to general management roles, managing hospitals and then eventually I worked at a regional level in London looking at the whole regional policy and strategy and, few other things on the way and, then into this post.

03:41 I was very lucky to work with some really very good bosses over the years who have been in a way I guess more ambitious for me than I might have been for myself and had said, well Chris why don’t you think about doing this or this bit of experience is lacking, you ought to go and get that bit of experience.


Chris B is the Chief Nursing Officer for England. She says “I’m the nurse that gives advice to government… a sort of visible leader of the profession throughout the country”. Chris had wanted to be a nurse from a young age, and after taking a career break to raise a family she returned to the profession and began to climb the ladder to her current position.

More information about Nurses

average salary

The UK average salary is £28,758

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

84%  female 
16%  male 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future Employment

Future employment?

? Nurses provide general and/or specialised nursing care for the sick, injured and others in need of such care, assist medical doctors with their tasks and work with other healthcare professionals and within teams of healthcare workers. They advise on and teach nursing practice.
Qualification as a nurse is via a diploma or degree course, both of which are provided by universities. Courses comprise both theoretical and practical work, including placements in hospital and community settings. Full time diploma courses last three years; degree courses last three or four years. Accelerated programmes are available to graduates with a health-related degree. There is a minimum age limit of 17 years 6 months to enter training. Post-registration training is available for a range of clinical specialisms.
  • Assists medical doctors and works with other healthcare professionals to deal with emergencies and pre-planned treatment of patients;
  • Manages own case load;
  • Monitors patient’s progress, administers drugs and medicines, applies surgical dressings and gives other forms of treatment;
  • Participates in the preparation for physical and psychological treatment of mentally ill patients;
  • Plans duty rotas and organises and directs the work and training of ward and theatre nursing staff;
  • Advises on nursing care, disease prevention, nutrition, etc. and liaises with hospital board/ management on issues concerning nursing policy;
  • Plans, manages, provides and evaluates nursing care services for patients, supervises the implementation of nursing care plans;
  • Delivers lectures and other forms of formal training relating to nursing practice.
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