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Nurses to rotate mental and physical health roles


Mental health nurses in Norfolk are to swap roles with colleagues in acute hospitals and vice versa, as part of a new rotation programme.

The rotation scheme is expected to start in June and is intended to help both sets of clinicians improve their all-round skills. Rotations will last from a couple of days to up to three months.

The programme will be run jointly by Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Foundation Trust, James Paget University Hospitals Foundation Trust and Norfolk Community Health and Care Trust.

Michele Allott, Norfolk and Suffolk FT’s deputy director of nursing and governance, said: “[Our nurses] will be working in accident and emergency and minor injury units, learning about things like wound care, while acute services staff who come to us will work in mental health crisis and assessment.

“They will learn about our services, and about how to use pathways rather than referring patients directly to crisis teams. This will help them to work more effectively with people who have mental health problems.”

She added: “We hope the rotation will benefit staff and patients on both sides. By developing practitioners who are more holistic and rounded in their approach we hope the nurses will become even more confident in their work with patients.

“And the scheme will prevent us sending people off to accident and emergency unnecessarily if the problem is something we are now able to deal with.”


Readers' comments (15)

  • Interesting concept :) Some CBT for acute appendicitis and a dressing round the cranium for suicidal ideation ;-)
    Seriously, it is a good idea. Better appreciation of roles.

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  • sounds like a good idea as long as everybody receives adequate training and supervision for the safety of patients

    anything to encourage more integrated physical and mental care can only be a positive move

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  • If the rotation programme generate some positive outcome, why not generalising this idea in general hospital between different department I.e. renal, colorectal, elderly care, orthopaedic, oncology....and so on. After all, general nurses should be able to look after general public regardless of their condition. Further more it would increase hugely their skill and knowledge and experience different leadership and management style...

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  • Good idea in principle but with services already strained to breaking point how many areas can afford to swap an appropriately qualified, skilled and competent practitioner for someone who can only function in a supernumerary role?

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  • As someone who has always believed in the concept of a "complete" nurse I think this is a great idea. Done correctly it will vastly increase the awareness of each others role by experiencing at first hand how each operates which should lead to better patient care although this maybe difficult to quantify. The wonder is it has taken so long for anyone to come up with the idea so congrats to all concerned down in Norfolk.

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  • What a brilliant idea - sadly doomed to failure but nice try

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  • well, nursing has its specialism in many fields; a bit like doctors. To raise awareness of what it is like to deliver care in a specialist field with which we are not too familiar is an excellent idea. As a matter of fact, collaborative practice is delivered as part of nursing training already for this purpose. My worries are that there may be other hidden agendas and I think that patients will not want to have Jacks of all Trades looking after them in the long run.

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  • Anonymous | 5-Jun-2012 10:01 pm

    no but modern thinking is towards integrated care and a better understanding of each others roles would enable and enhance this.

    There has been enough of being confronted with patients and carrying out some parts of their care and then saying sorry for some other problem they have, that is not my job, or sorry I have not been trained to do that. generalists should at least have some basic knowledge and training in all areas they may confront on general wards and know how to mobilise the right additional specialist care for their patients.

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  • Good, glad to see western medicine finally realising that heads are attached to bodies. The mind makes you ill in the 'physical' form at times, so stands to reason it can also make you better. Hopefully, these staff will aquire a better understanding of 'holistic care'. Many other health professionals rotate, and it doesn't seem to have a detrimental effect on patient care. I don't think it will create generalists, as these placements are relatively short, but provides updates on the wider concept of patient care.

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  • This would not have been necessary if nurse training had continued to provide student nurses with 9 weeks practical placement in mental health/general wards. The shame is that stopped!
    in response to the comment about doctors...all medics learn to become doctors and only start to specialise once the become F2's. I think nurses should follow the same root, we should become nurses who are capable of dealing with all caring eventualities and only once we are competent in being a 'nurse' should we specialise.
    I really hope the Norfolk model works, and that it awakens the educationalists to the problem.

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