Health minister Anne Milton wants to see nurses and midwives involved in commissioning but will not be legislating to make it happen.
Speaking to an audience of senior nurses at the Chief Nursing Officer’s Summit in London last week, Ms Milton said GP commissioning was a misnomer.
“GP commissioning will in fact be cross-professional commissioning. We will use all the tools in the toolbox: nurses, midwives, occupational therapists, everyone will be involved in the design of delivery of services,” she said.
However, when asked by Nursing Times whether nurses’ role in commissioning would be statutory, she said it would be up to local consortia to decide on the level of involvement.
“What we are very clear about is that the centre is not the place to decide how things happen locally. It’s extremely different delivering care in a rural area to an inner city. We need local decision making.”
The role of nurses in the new GP consortia has been the subject of much debate.
Earlier this month Dame Barbara Hakin, the Department of Health’s director of commissioning and development, said she would love to see community nurses form commissioning support units to advise GPs. However, Queen’s Nursing Institute director Rosemary Cook said it was crucial nurses had a “seat at the table” of consortia.
Royal College of Nurses chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said he would like to see a statutory role for nurses.
He said: “Our ideal position is that this should be part of the legislation but I’m not at all surprised because the secretary of state has been quite clear they won’t prescribe from the centre.
“Whilst overall that’s a good thing, we still think it’s in everyone’s interest to have strong nursing representation in the new [commissioning] world.”