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'Investment in staff is vital for Stevens’ plan'


The NHS in England’s new five-year plan makes some recommendations that will be music to the ears of nurses and midwives - particularly those working in the community and in public health.

The strategy seems to acknowledge the leadership potential of nursing and could signal a move away from the still long-held view of many in the health professions - and indeed the public - that nurses are merely the handmaidens of doctors.

So far, so good. Integrating services in the community outside of hospitals is the most sensible thing to do; this will enable nurses working in community and primary care settings to provide high-quality holistic treatment and care. Giving the nurse more authority to coordinate health and social care is also a good decision, ensuring an appropriate professional has a 360-degree view of the care being provided and can advocate for the patient. But like so many things in the NHS, the question is: how will it work in practice? Particularly if there aren’t enough nurses to take on these roles.

The nursing workforce faces a huge shortage crisis. As we’ve previously reported, the Centre for Workforce Intelligence predicts the NHS is likely to have 47,500 fewer nurses than it needs by 2016.

Even the new head of NHS England, Simon Stevens, acknowledges staff salaries will be an issue and the continued cuts into nurses’ pay is not sustainable. Ministers must listen to his advice and agree to pay nurses more.

If they really want to make this system work it will require investment - in systems and processes, but particularly in its staff.

The plan seems to acknowledge the profession’s expertise. And yet why do I get the feeling that handing control over to nurses and midwives might just be a strategy for getting more for less?

Nursing should not be seen as the cheap option, but as the best option. And often that can also be the most cost-effective option. But I just hope that the politicians and the senior managers of NHS England don’t just think of nursing as a means of fixing everything without giving it due respect.

This week’s Nursing Times Awards will prove just how much nurses can achieve. But let’s hope that the five-year plan also ensures there are enough nurses to continue doing that good work. Because without the goodwill, talent, intelligence and hard work of nursing, I don’t think the NHS has got another five years left in it.

Jenni Middleton, editor Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed


Readers' comments (3)

  • Nurses are mostly in the front line of care. They currently have to manage with the unmanageable , because as frontline staff, they are in much more direct contact with patients, service users etched at time of care delivery, and then they are faced with all sort of problems, shortage of colleagues and careers to manage unit, multiple task to do, administration of prescribed medication, booking and organising patients to attend appointments,receiving phone calls from other professionals, patients family and significant others.Documentation of care delivered ,and in the mist of all these busy shift has to maintain health, safety and well being of patient, staff and patients visitors . The list of a days job is unlimited.these are extremely stressful situation , that can be a contributing factor to Nurses burn out, exodus and some just quitting . An increase in Nurses pay will be relieving, but providing the resources to enable the Nurse carry out their duties without undue stress, is most important

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  • The problem with NHS is they are not prepared to employ Nurses who has nursing homes experiences or those who has had sanctions imposed by the NMC. I am one of them.I am still so devoted to my profession and I am a surgical Nurse by choice. I got stuck working in the Nursing homes although I have a lot of surgical experience to offer. This condition of practice imposed by the NMC is not something that is due to a very gross misconduct but due only to ONE medication error, a banter that were misinterpreted and baseline observations that were not recorded in the official hospital document. These allegations are now addressed by NMC hence I have this condition of practice. I feel that due to this records, I will end up being stuck working in Nursing homes for the rest of my working life. This is not fair because I still want to work in the NHS and very willing to be trained and get trusted upon. I am not a Nurse who has killed a patient before due to medication errors or other reasons. It is just a shame because I'm flexible and more than willing to work more than the minimum full time hours. I have so much to offer in the hospital setting rather than in Nursing homes.

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  • soon only saints will be able to nurse

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