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Do not cut specialist roles, warns SHA chief


Specialist members of the NHS workforce must not be sacrificed in order to find efficiency savings, a government advisor and strategic health authority chief executive has warned.

NHS East Midlands chief executive and Department of Health commissioning advisor Barbara Hakin told the NHS Confederation annual conference last week that productivity would actually suffer if trusts took the approach of using specialists to fill generalist gaps.

An investigation in May by Nursing Times found many trusts across the country had begun requiring clinical nurse specialists to undertake general ward duties in order to fill staff shortages.

But Ms Hakin, a former GP, said: “It is absolutely critical that we keep…. individual elements of the workforce doing the things they, and they alone, can do.

“If we don’t keep those specialisms – whether those specialist skills sit with a doctor, a nurse, a paramedic or a social worker – I think there’s little chance of us having the capacity to deliver what we have to do in the future,” she told delegates.

Dame Barbara said using the workforce more efficiently was the “number one fundamental way” of achieving the £20bn savings target set for the NHS, but warned that staff must be supported to do so.

“We’ve got a real responsibility over the next few years to support them through these difficult times, so they have the right skills and the right development…. to do even better than we’re doing now,” she said.

Dame Barbara also told delegates the NHS must use patients themselves more. She said: “The biggest resource we’ve always failed to use properly is the patient themselves. That resource is infinite.

“If we can help and support patients to take charge of their own care….then that is the main way we can free up all the professions of the NHS,” she said.


Readers' comments (3)

  • Hi. Im working in the comunity and am currently being sponsored by my trust to do my post grad dip in specialist community public health nursing, and at the end of the course, beginning of sept, i will be out of a job, as the trust i am sponsored by tells me they have no money to keep me on permanently. This means i have to go and find another job, however there are very few band 6 school nurses posts out there. so after all this training, im having to go back into the acute setting.

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  • Is that what the trusts calling cost cutting measures, pay for someone to train then tell them they dont have a job, what a stupid waste of money and bad houskeeping practice, if you dont utilise this nurse now equipped with up to date skills why train her in the first place ?????? beggers belief good luck in your search for a job and hope your next employer values you

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  • Community public health and health promotion both in community, hospital and rehabilitation need to be a priority if we are ever to break the current cycle of preventable health needs. The patient as stated in this article are key to saving thousands in the NHS by taking on some accountability for their own health and preventing future illnesses by life style changes. However those at greatest risk in areas of deprevation need to have support to develop skills to do this and this cannot be achieved in isolation of the underlying reasons or perception of why they rely on smoking and drinking as coping stratergies for lifes problems

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