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Care challenges need assertive nurses, says nursing professor

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Practice nurses should assert themselves to ensure they play an integral role in future commissioning, a leading academic nurse has said.

Kings College, London, visiting professor of nursing Jane Salvage told Nursing Times that upheavals caused by the NHS reforms and rising levels of demand for long term care presented massive challenges to nursing.

The former Nursing Times editor said not only would the health service feel the pinch of financial restrictions and the turbulence of NHS “disorganisation” but cuts to the wider public sector would lead to rising demand on services.

Speaking at the Royal College of Nursing advanced nurse practitioner forum conference in London, she said: “Huge public spending cuts will increase demand on health services just as we are facing a decrease in health spending, and we are whatever the government says about a ring-fenced budget.

“We are seeing frontline job losses and the influence of nurses is under threat – we have all read the speculation that the chief nurse will not be replaced when she retires,” she said.   

Professor Salvage said that the way to face up to these challenges was to “build on the brilliant work done by advanced nurse practitioners,” and equip and develop nurses to take lead roles as care co-ordinators.

She said: “We are going to face unprecedented challenges particularly in long term care and we simply cannot keep doing things in the same way.

“We have to show leadership, we must network and support and educate carers and people with conditions to do more for themselves.”

On the particular issue of clinical commissioning under new GP led consortia professor Salvage said that all practice nurses must assert themselves to be involved in decisions about buying services.

“This is obviously going to be easier in areas where nurses have been given leadership roles and taken seriously but we all have to participate in the change because the future is how we make it,” she said.

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