Community matrons could become a casualty of the latest NHS reforms due to the low opinion in which the role is held by GPs, latest research suggests.
Many GPs are sceptical about the impact of community matrons and see them as a danger to traditional services, according to a study published in the British Journal of General Practice.
This is despite nurse-led case management of long term conditions increasingly being championed as one of the main alternative service models to hospital care.
The Royal College of Nursing said the findings – based on interviews with GPs, nurse case managers, and community service managers across three primary care trusts – were concerning.
The researchers investigated views on nurse case management, including the specialist role of community matrons in dealing with complex cases, ahead of the transfer of most NHS funding decisions to GP-led clinical commissioning groups in April 2013.
The study authors said: “The dominant mood [among GPs] was scepticism about the ability of nurse case managers to reduce hospital admissions among patients with complex comorbidities. Community matrons in particular were seen as staff who were imposed on local health services, sometimes to detrimental effect.”
They said many GPs considered the “current model of community matron as resource intensive” and questioned whether the “resources financing it might be used to greater effect in other ways”.
In addition, the authors added that managers “all reported that their organisation and the wider commissioning community were questioning the value of the community matron posts as currently configured”.
Royal College of Nursing primary care advisor Lynn Young warned that “quite a few community matrons were already losing posts, or having to reapply for them”.
She said the community matron role worked well in some areas, but had suffered from “unsatisfactory” introduction and development in others, often when district nurses were “shoved” into a community matron role overnight.
“There’s a lot of work to do in these areas of nursing. The whole conglomeration of nurses in the community is as messy as it’s ever been.”