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Nurses ‘should not lead reform’

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Nurses risk ‘spending all their time in meetings’ under plans to reform the NHS, the Queen’s Nursing Institute has warned.

A report published this month by junior health minister Lord Darzi said NHS reform should be clinically and locally led – a move backed by the RCN and Unison.

But QNI director Rosemary Cook said she was concerned that too much pressure could be put on clinicians in order to lead change. There was ‘only so much nurses can do’, she said.

‘Clinicians can help to influence change but it is not right for them to be solely responsible for doing it – they can’t always do everything,’ she said. ‘The community nurses who are QNI project leaders know that leading change takes enormous time and effort over long periods
of time.’

Lord Darzi’s report is part of the NHS next stage review, the government’s latest plan to reform the NHS, which is due to be published in full in July (NT News, 13 May, p2).

Ms Cook said she wanted the review to emphasise the need for a balance and ‘joint effort between clinicians and managers’.

‘The public are not silly – they want clinicians nursing and operating on them,’ she said. ‘They don’t want them counting paper clips and spending all their time in meetings.’

Ms Cook also warned that NHS care must still be subject to national guidelines and evidence reviews, despite Lord Darzi’s focus on local decision-making.

‘It was the consequence of local clinicians’ quality, expertise, preferences and idiosyncrasies that led to huge variations in care, and required these national approaches to be set up in the first place,’ she said.

‘The government’s new focus on localism has a lot of validity but there still need to be national guidelines – it’s not black and white.’

The government last week said a new NHS Reform Bill would take forward proposals in the next stage review that would require legislation.

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