Nurses could be given power over commissioning decisions under Conservative Party plans to devolve power to the frontline, Nursing Times can reveal.
Speaking to Nursing Times in the week the Tories launched their draft health manifesto and kicked off their election campaign, shadow health minister Anne Milton recognised that many nurses would like to expand their role.
Ms Milton, a former nurse, said: “I will always fight for nurses, I think they have a crucial role to play in the delivery of care, in commissioning and delivering good patient outcomes.
“Nurses are often, in the community, best placed to know how a patient’s needs will be met. I can see a situation where GPs will devolve some of the commissioning to nurses.”
She said the change needed to be part of an “evolutionary process”. “We’ve seen the role of the nurse extend over the years but there are many nurses who would like to extend their role further.”
Chief nursing officer Christine Beasley has said she would like to see nurses more involved in commissioning decisions. In some areas nurses are working with GPs in practice based commissioning teams.
The Tories pledged in their draft health manifesto to remove “politically-motivated process targets that stop health professionals doing their jobs properly”.
Some nursing representatives have expressed fears that this could involve a return to long waiting lists.
Ms Milton said her party would still monitor performance if it is elected, but through patient outcome measures rather than targets set in Whitehall.
The manifesto also promises to “transfer resources that Labour is currently wasting on bureaucracy to support doctors and nurses on the frontline”.
But plans to increase the number of single rooms for hospital patients by 45,000 were scaled back. The manifesto says the party will “end the scandal of mixed sex accommodation and increase the number of single rooms in hospitals, as resources allow”.
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