Global nursing leader receives honorary degree from UK university  

The chief executive of the International Council of Nurses, Howard Catton, has been given an honorary degree by a UK university for his work in advocating for the profession around the world.

Mr Catton, who has been chief executive of the ICN since 2019, has received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Northumbria University, Newcastle.

“I accept this award with gratitude on behalf of nurses who continue to deliver over and above what is expected of them”

Howard Catton

The ICN is a federation of more than 135 national nursing associations, which formed in 1899, and currently represents around 27.9 million nurses across the world.

In his role as chief executive, Mr Catton acts as the “face and voice of nursing globally” as well as contributing to the international development of policy in healthcare, the university noted.

Among his achievements, it noted that Mr Catton had initiated and co-chaired the first-ever State of the World’s Nursing Report in a partnership between the ICN and World Health Organisation (WHO).

It informed the development of the WHO’s current global nursing strategy and has had a significant impact on the development of ethical recruitment standards for internationally trained nurses.

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The university added that, throughout his career, Mr Catton had worked extensively on issues relating to the nursing and healthcare workforce.

It highlighted, for example, that he had emerged as a prominent figure amid the Covid-19 pandemic, during which he called for psychological support for nurses.

In addition, it noted that he had consistently been at the forefront of advocating for the protection of nursing and investment into the profession.

Mr Catton qualified as a nurse in 1988 and has held a variety of nursing posts in England, US and New Zealand. For 10 years, he was head of policy and international affairs at the Royal College of Nursing.

He was presented with his honorary degree from Northumbria during a graduation ceremony this week at its Newcastle campus.

Accepting the recognition, Mr Catton said: “I am delighted to receive this honorary degree on behalf of my colleagues at the ICN and nurses everywhere.

“Part of ICN’s remit is to champion the wellbeing of nurses, and that has been a vital part of our work, especially over the past four years,” he said.

“Our profession has done so much to help humanity, and in the pandemic, while nursing came into its own, nurses endured a terrible burden with great fortitude.

Our health systems were exposed as fragile, and nurses were the front line of defence against a terrible deadly virus,” said Mr Catton, also flagging the ICN’s current #NursesforPeace campaign.

He added: “I accept this award with gratitude on behalf of nurses who continue to deliver over and above what is expected of them, often in difficult and even dangerous situations.

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“Nursing is the golden thread that runs through healthcare, and your show of appreciation of their efforts with this award is very welcome.”

Howard Catton is a regulator contributor to Nursing Times

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