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Locating Health Policy and Nursing: Time For a Closer Relationship   

Frances A. Hughes RN, MA, FCNA(NZ) Chief Nurse Advisor, Ministry of Health, New Zealand (on leave)  

Abstract   

This paper is written in recognition that 100 years ago Grace Neill, first chief nurse in the world, brought about the first separate nursing legislation for nurses in the world and through that formalised the relationship of nurses and health policy in New Zealand. For nurses in leadership positions it is sometimes difficult to understand why at times the profession can spend a great deal of energy on trying to influence a course of action and nothing happens, while at other times certain courses of action occur “in left field” and change happens quickly. Understanding policy processes allows nurses to make sense of their world and assists them to strategically align their energies to areas that will maximise opportunity and improve their services. This paper outlines the role that policy and nursing have in a demanding and changing health care environment. As well it shows the basic tenets of policy and strategies for how nurses can increase their involvement.   

Key Words: Health policy, nursing, policy process, policy communities   

Introduction    

On 12 September 2001 New Zealand celebrated the occasion that 100 years had elapsed since the passing of the Nurses Registration Act, by means of which New Zealand became the first country in the world to have separate legislation for the regulation of nursing. The introduction of the Act in 1901 can be attributed almost solely to the efforts of Grace Neill, the first Chief Nursing Advisor in New Zealand and the first Chief Nurse in the World. Following its adoption, Grace Neill administered all provisions contained in the Nurses Registration Act (Neill, 1961).   

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