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GPs under pressure to support nursing post

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A charity has accused an emerging GP consortium of leaving 600 Parkinson’s disease patients in Sussex without specialist nursing care.

Nursing Times believes it is the first example of a charity putting direct pressure on one of the new GP-led commissioning bodies – due to take over most NHS decision making from primary care trusts.

Two GP consortia are being established in West Sussex. They are advising the local primary care trust NHS West Sussex on its funding decisions during the current 2011-12 financial year, but have not yet been delegated formal spending powers.

However, the charity Parkinson’s UK has accused one consortium, the Coastal West Sussex Federation, of reversing a decision previously made by the PCT to fund a new Parkinson’s nurse.

The PCT had agreed funding to recruit two specialist nurses – one in the north and one in the south. But while the GP consortium in the north subsequently rubber stamped the plan, Nursing Times has been told Coastal West Sussex has opted to “take a longer look” at its future strategy for long term conditions.

Parkinson’s UK said it had been working with the PCT for over two years to secure a Parkinson’s nurse to cover the area, but the new consortium had “declined to support the post”. It has launched a campaign, backed by a petition of nearly 1,000 signatures, to persuade the GPs to reconsider.

But Coastal West Sussex Federation chair Katie Armstrong said a final decision had not been made on the nursing post. She said: “We have not scrapped the idea of a nurse in the south, nor are we denying people services.

“We are holding an event on 5 May with a range of organisations and individuals, including Parkinson’s UK, to explore the best way forward on commissioning services for people with long-term conditions.”

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