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New website to share local public health nursing schemes

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Nurses are being encouraged to share successful public health schemes they have been involved with through a new website launched by the Royal College of Nursing.

The website features almost 20 initiatives from across the country that focus on tackling issues ranging from obesity to HIV. It follows a recent RCN survey showing that commissioners want more input from public health nurses.

As reported on by Nursing Times last month, the survey of 220 UK designers of public health services revealed gaps between the contribution nurses make at present and level of involvement commissioners actually wanted.

In areas such as housing, employment, emergency responses and environment health hazards, between 55% and 85% of commissioners believed nurses should be “always” or “frequently” involved in services. But in reality only 10% to 40% said nurses contributed “always” or “frequently”.

Even in parts of services where nursing contribution was high – such as clinical effectiveness, governance, efficiency, service planning, and auditing – commissioners said they still wanted more involvement. A lack of required skills was also identified by some.

The RCN recommended a series of actions to improve the contribution nurses make to public health services, such as a stronger focus on this area in all nursing programmes, and more opportunities for nurses to be “skilled up” to work with commissioners.

Helen Donovan, RCN professional lead for public health, said: “Nurses have a crucial role in public health – whether it is dealing with outbreaks of infectious diseases, giving lifestyle advice or supporting people and families at home. The staff doing this vital work should be proud that their work is valued and appreciated.

“There is a clear consensus that nurses have the expertise, the experience, the leadership skills and the local knowledge to make a difference,” she said. ”However, there are not enough of them in the right roles to be there when needed.”

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