Health secretary Andrew Lansley has pledged to give frontline nurses more control over decisions about patient care.
Yesterday’s white paper Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS, says the government will adopt a “bottom up” approach to healthcare that puts ownership and decision making “in the hands of professionals and patients”.
The document, which outlines the most radical reforms to the NHS for more than 10 years, puts the power to commission patient services firmly back in the hands of GPs who will take control of around two-thirds of the NHS budget.
However, the role of the nurse in these reforms is only mentioned twice in the 61-page document.
Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter welcomed the “commitment to include nurses alongside GPs” in making decisions about local health services. But he warned that the reforms “will not be without risk”.
“In economically challenging times there will be some difficult decisions with patients about their care and what is affordable which has the potential to change the relationship patients have with nurses and doctors,” he said.
“In these tough economic times it is more important than ever that public money is spent wisely. A robust system will be essential to ensure those holding the purse strings, as well as managers and politicians, are fully accountable and that every penny is spent with good patient care in mind.”