Nurses need the freedom to practice and fulfil their role without “obstacles in their path”, Unison has urged.
The trade union was responding to the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery, launched in March to create a strategy for the future of both professions.
Unison’s consultation response calls for more nurse led services and greater opportunities for nurses to contribute to wider decisions at their organisations and to policy making.
The skills of advance practitioners, including nurse consultants, are not being fully recognised by the NHS, it says.
Prohibiting pain management consultants from prescribing relief for acute, as opposed to long term, pain amounts to a “waste of a valuable commodity”, the consultation says.
It also questions why nurse prescribing measures are often controlled by chief pharmacists instead of allowing nurses to use their clinical judgements.
It states: “Whilst we invest in nursing leadership we need to allow them the freedom to practice and fulfil their role [without] placing obstacles in their path.”
Unison also wants all community staff to have access to the internet and an electronic note book linked into patient records.
The lack of universal standards for healthcare assistants has created a “postcode lottery”, the response says.
It states: “We are at risk as nurses of selling down the role of healthcare assistants in the same way as the medical profession for many years tried to limit nurses’ roles and duties.”
A national uniform for all nurses and midwives in England would help patients to understand who is caring for them, it recommends.
The Royal College of Nursing’s response says healthcare assistants need to be regulated alongside nurses.
It also emphasises the importance of nursing values such as care, compassion and empathy.
RCN executive director of nursing and service delivery Janet Davies said: “Patients are increasingly savvy about their own health, and we need a cultural change to reflect their needs.”
The response recommends prioritising the support and development of ward sisters and community leaders.
Nursing must be promoted as a life-long career, it says, with extensive opportunities to develop skills.
The commission is due to report back in March.