Nursing Times’ practice editor, Ann Shuttleworth, argues that nurses may be better placed than GPs to manage commissioning
It can’t have escaped your attention that there is a certain amount of disquiet about the NHS reforms. In fact it is difficult to find much in the way of supportive comment that does not come directly from the government – howls of protests have come from healthcare professionals, the organisations that represent them and what seems like an ever-growing list of other respected individuals and institutions.
A seat on the board campaign
- Mission:To ensure nurses are actively involved in the new commissioning consortia and represented on all boards.
- How do I sign?Click here and add your name today.
- Signatures to date: 801
Nurses have many good reasons to be concerned about the changes, both on behalf of their patients and for reasons of self-interest. Can the government guarantee patient care will not suffer? And what about nurses’ careers and job stability? Who knows – maybe in five years we’ll be wondering what all the fuss was about.
But whether you support or oppose the reforms, it’s vital that – assuming they make it through parliament – the NHS is given the best chance of making them work.
One of the biggest – and to my mind most worrying – changes planned is GP commissioning. Setting aside whether it makes sense for 80% of the NHS budget to be controlled at local levels, my main worry is that as it stands, GPs could be making funding decisions without referring to any other professionals.
“But whether you support or oppose the reforms, it’s vital that – assuming they make it through parliament – the NHS is given the best chance of making them work.”
Of course it is likely that most GP consortiums will adopt a far more collaborative approach and include a range of healthcare professionals in the decision-making process. But the point is, they don’t have to – and even if only a tiny minority decide to go it alone, their patients will suffer.
As the only healthcare profession with a holistic view of patients’ needs it’s arguable that nurses are actually better placed than GPs to be put in charge of commissioning. That’s why we’ve set up our A Seat on the Board campaign to ensure that each consortium has at least one nurse board member. It’s not enough for them to talk about “involving other professions where necessary” – nurse involvement in decision making must be formalised.
We’re in it for the long haul– we have until 2013-14, when GP commissioning goes fully operational, to push, prod and yes, even plead, with individual consortiums and the organisations representing and advising them to guarantee real involvement for nurses.
So whether you support the NHS reforms or not, help us to make sure the nursing profession has real involvement in deciding the future of NHS care by signing our petition.