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Continence nurse blog: The recession and continence nurse specialists

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Continence expert and Nursing Times blogger Frank Booth on the recession and what it means for continence nurse specialists.

I’ve always been interested in money and I’d like to think that my employing trusts appreciated both my efforts and my interests in this area.

Now most of the country knows that the credit crunch is upon us, and that we are officially in recession, that the country, no, the world is in a tailspin and before long we will implode. The car industry, steel, retail business, when will it be the turn of the NHS?

The Health Secretary (Alan Johnson) has said that the NHS will be protected from most of the effects of the global recession at least for a year or two.

The Department of Health (DH) has signalled that ‘strong financial management across the NHS has brought the service out of a deficit and onto a strong financial footing’. What do the last two statements mean to us?

Read on, and if you do read any of the government related comments (Hansard especially) you will also have read that Mr. Johnson also states that he expects NHS Staff to make further savings! Well are we surprised?

If the truth be known, I wonder how much of what we hear on the news is real and how much is scaremongering over the credit crunch?

Look at the facts – well no perhaps not, even the mighty Continence CNS’s of the NHS can’t put all the world’s problems to rights.

The world will in the fullness of time sort itself out, we have successive governments that we can only hope will steer us back to something like normal but in the meantime your local NHS needs you.

There are enough people in very high positions that seem to understand how to make a mess of the NHS without our help, then tell us that we need to save money, yet seem really good at wasting it.

Perhaps we should look at the latest fiasco, the on-going saga of Part IX of the Drug Tariff, which was a consultation that would, could or should reduce that part of the NHS drug bill by up to 30%!

So how did we do?

Phase one, put out the consultation document with a number of items that even I can see will offend industry and clinicians never mind the poor old patients and therefore in reality the chance of success in phase one was nil.

Guess what? You’re right, no one was happy so we wrote it all up and decided that we needed to consult again.

History has a habit of repeating itself and as the months ticked by we consulted again and couldn’t really agree again. We’ve ended up looking at an overall reduction of a couple of percent. One has to wonder how many years it will take to make up the difference between cost of consultation and benefits realised through new savings.

As a continence CNS part of your role is to manage the service as a whole. If you didn’t get it right you would expect and rightly so that your boss would be less than happy with you and heads may role.

I ask how do managers higher up in the Department of Health seem to get it wrong so many times?

Still, you need to get it right within your empire and of course whilst the entire world falls apart we can do it. Just think about it in a very logical way. Who in their right mind wants to work every day with pee and poo? Well I did and for quite a long time until ill health attacked me. I know and understand that during the past 2 years since I have been away from the front line that everything has moved on but has it really moved on so far that ‘conti-sense’ is no longer possible.

You must have your say whether management listen or not.

As a continence CNS you, like all CNS’s know where to save money, simply, safely and with minimum fuss. In my last 5 years of work my service was able to save over£1 million, yes that’s right. But for my heart attack we were on the verge of doing what the DH consultation suggests. How? That’s another story!

You may need a lot of good luck to get your managers on side but it really is worthwhile and you know it because you care. Anyone who takes on the responsibilities of the CNS is something special and should be treasured.

If the DH and government want greater efficiency, effective financial probity and better financial management then they need to allow the CNS to use their skills and advise general managers in Trusts.

For the average CNS, if you don’t think financial management is part of your job then Oops! You will not like this particular blog, however I would just say what does your job description say?

We all know that service ‘fat’ has all but gone and you will now be cutting into the ‘lean’ but I promise that YOU are best placed to help, don’t ask what your Trust can do for you but what YOU can do for your Trust.

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