The history of the LNNM

The London Network for Nurses and Midwives was set up in 1996 by Professor Dame Christine Beasley (Regional Nurse Director for London at that time) as part of the London Standing Conference for Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors. This brought nurses, midwives, and health visitors together to share their experiences, challenges and innovations in a safe space that fostered a culture of development. The Standing Conference took a non-hierarchical and grass roots approach that centred collective leadership and development.

The network was encouraged to push boundaries and to develop ideas to advance nursing and midwifery practice in a way that would benefit patients. The network was funded to allow delivery of innovation. Members were able to influence the health agenda across London.

In 2006 the London Standing Conference for Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors became the London Network for Nurses and Midwives which more accurately described its form, function, and focus.

One of the groups set up was the group that focused on homelessness and a wider health inclusion agenda. The first chair was Dame Eileen Sills. The aim of this group was to raise the profile of people who were homeless, and the interventions needed to ensure high quality care that was responsive, timely, accessible, and appropriate. Events were also developed in collaboration with the children’s nursing group. These events led to the development of handheld records for asylum seeking children that were endorsed and funded by the Department of Health. There was also consultation with children from the Traveller community about what impacts their health. The findings were shared with strategic organisations in London including the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, the Greater London Authority and Public Health England.

The Homelessness group established itself as a multi-agency and multi-disciplinary group which included representatives from third sector agencies such as St Johns Ambulance, Crisis and Centre Point as well as nurses working with people experiencing homelessness. The group shared good practice across London and worked to influence service delivery including around funding and commissioning and worked to develop a career pathway for nurses.

In the groups document, ‘Nursing and Homelessness’, models of good practice were identified as well as gaps in provision for people experiencing homelessness and exclusion such as in dentistry and mental health. This document also addressed the health needs of asylum seekers, Travellers and homeless families and issues around hospital discharge and the use of accident and emergency services. It also included work on career progression for inclusion health nurses with a proposed pathway being published as part of the recommendations alongside a Diploma/Degree in social exclusion nursing. A proposal for such a course was developed with Middlesex university.

The group has influenced London’s health policy to make services more inclusive. In June 2014 the group presented 3 case studies to the London Health Commission to support its case for the need to develop a different approach to commissioning in relation to meeting the health needs of people experiencing homelessness and multiple disadvantages. As a result, the need to improve health care provision for people experiencing homelessness was outlined in recommendation 31 of the Better Health for London report, which stated: ‘Health and care commissioners should develop a pan-London, multi-agency approach to health care for the homeless and rough sleepers, with dedicated integrated care teams and commissioned across the capital by a single lead commissioner’. As a result, the Healthy London Homeless partnership was developed as part of the Healthy London Partnership with a focus on health and homelessness and the transformation of service delivery.

Other outputs included the development of guidelines, conferences, running action learning sets, lobbying and feeding into national guidance and policies.

In 2010 the London Network for Nurses and Midwives entered into a partnership with the Florence Nightingale Foundation that supported the administration and coordination of the network. The network funds were invested in a 5-year programme of Leadership Scholarships, Research Scholarships and Small Grants.

It was recognised that the network successfully:

  • United nurses and midwives pan-London
  • Had an impact on individuals, communities, and the population of London through a whole system approach.
  • Enabled learning and change.
  • Professional networks developed across organisations and hierarchical boundaries
  • Covered a wide range of health and social issues.