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Kent GPs learn to appreciate community nurses

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A major re-organisation of community nursing in East Kent has reduced workloads through joint working and increased awareness among GPs of the role of nurses, say managers.

The re-configuration, which began last summer, involved creating smaller community nursing teams aligned to one or more specific GP practices, depending on their size. The community matron service has also been aligned with the new teams, with a designated matron covering several teams.

Additionally £1.5m has been invested in employing 32 new full-time posts.

The plans were drawn up by NHS Eastern and Coastal Kent, local GPs, and Eastern and Coastal Kent Community Health Trust.

Ruth Brown, lead commissioner for community services at NHS Eastern and Coastal Kent, said it had become apparent that to get more effective and better quality community nursing outcomes, nurses and GPs needed to work together more closely.

She said: “Over the years district nursing teams had moved away from working with GP practices, often ending up based in larger locality teams. The result was nurses were not in very good contact with GPs.”

Ms Brown said it was still early days but the move had already led to more “shared working” between district nurses and community matrons.

“They’re helping with each other’s caseload,” she said. “If one team is visiting a patient then they might do a bit of basic nursing care for the other while they’re there. It means less replication and less stress for nurses. They feel they have more of a team around them now.”

It has also helped raise awareness among GPs of specialist services offered by nurses. Ms Brown said: “Before some GPs weren’t aware which of their patients were getting extra care from a community matron.”

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