A regulator has criticised trusts for the “opportunistic” takeover of community services, a process which sees thousands of nurses change employer.
The process, which was largely completed in April, saw roughly a third of the provider arms of primary care trusts integrating with mental health trusts, a third join acute services and a third become independent community trusts.
“What struck us more than anything else was the sheer opportunistic nature of it,” Mr Lambert said at the NHS Confederation conference in Manchester. He said many trusts’ mindset was: “’We can squeeze a few percentage points of efficiency from this organisation, let’s do a business plan’.”
Mr Lambert said Monitor’s work with 20 foundation trusts showed “very few of them are clear on what they are trying to transform themselves into”, although he admitted they had to draw up their plans within a tight deadline imposed by the government.
Fears have been expressed that integration with health trusts would result in community services being downgraded or redesigned to suit the larger organisation’s systems.
Royal College of Nursing assistant head of nursing Tim Curry insisted the transfer was an opportunity for nurses working in community services, giving some “the licence to to what they always wanted”.
He told Nursing Times that while the “big, white building syndrome” was a worry as hospitals took over some services, trusts would be “mad to take someone who really understands the local population and put them inside.”
District nurses and practice nurses would thrive in a “very accountable, low control” system, he added.