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'A seat on the board for nurses is in sight'


The weeks of listening to health professionals during the government’s self-imposed “pause” in the NHS reforms are, it seems, promising to bear fruit for nurses.

Finally, the government is starting to wake up to the fact that nurses provide the greatest amount of patient care, will influence patient experience and outcomes and should therefore have a significant influence over how NHS money is spent.

The signs have been there for some time - health secretary Andrew Lansley and prime minister David Cameron began talking about “clinical commissioning” instead of “GP commissioning” at media events, and the inclusion of nurses in the listening exercise all pointed to a rethink around nurses’ roles.

But then on Tuesday last week, Mr Cameron finally promised that nurses would have a role in commissioning and it is not unreasonable to believe the government may make having a nurse on boards mandatory. Let’s hope so. After all, our A Seat on The Board Campaign has been fighting for this since last autumn.

The RCN backs our campaign and although some nurses are sceptical about the importance of a seat, we believe it is a strong start. Some fear it is tokenism and that one nurse will not be able to influence decisions. But, nurses have manoeuvred their way onto the radar of those crafting the reforms thanks to their fighting spirit (the RCN Congress vote of no confidence), and debating prowess during the listening exercise. Having a seat on the board means nursing’s voice will be heard for the benefit of patients.

But let’s think about other allied health professionals. I recently met a journalist from a pharmacy journal, and she talked of how desperately her readers wanted to be involved in commissioning. They may get that wish, but so far have not been mentioned in dispatches. So let’s count our blessings. For us, it may not be time to pop the corks, but maybe it’s time for a tiny cheer.

Sign our A Seat on the Board campaign at


Readers' comments (24)

  • I'm getting tired of repeating myself, why is it that those who represent us feel that 'one seat on the board' is enough? It is a token bone thrown to the dogs to keep them quiet, that is it. We - as Nurses - should be running the NHS EQUALLY with ALL professionals.

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  • GP's are not interested in having any nurse input into commissioning at board level - I have been told in no uncertain terms by more than one GP on more than one occasion that commissioning is 'all about money and specifically money possibly going out of their pockets' so why should we have any input ! So even if a nurse has a place on the board (token gesture or not) we had better not fool ourselves into thinking that the rest of the board (probably all GP's) are going to take any notice of our opinion.

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  • what does it matter what GPs think about nurse input? why should it be GP led at all? Does this not need to be an equal partnership between all healthcare professionals involved to prevent any sort of financial abuse and certain groups lining their pockets at the expense of patients and other professionals?
    It can be argued that GPs have all the overheads to pay for in running their surgeries but then an overall re-examination of funding GP practices is necessary.

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  • Anonymous | 20-Jun-2011 4:07 am well said, I absolutely agree!

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  • it might be more appropriate to choose a different and more general title representing all healthcare personnel and take GP out of it so that they do not have, or even misguidedly think they have, the monopoly on this.

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  • michael stone

    I have just been 'slagged off' in another debate:

    Anonymous | 21-Jun-2011 2:19 pm

    Michael Stone

    Please be considerate enough to leave the NT sites for nurses to comment and debate with one another in order to advance in a more rapid and constructive manner as this is important to us and we also have severe time constraints.

    So, the posts in this one are 'more reasoned than mine' ? And, don't patients have an interest in their care as well ?

    Anonymous | 21-Jun-2011 10:13 am

    They have indeed, made the names more confusing: they should have stuck with 'GP Consortia' to describe the groups of GPs which join together to purchase secondary sevices, and 'GP Consortia Commissioning Boards' to describe the boards which actually do that commissioning.

    Anonymous | 19-Jun-2011 9:50 pm

    I was under the impression (doubtless GPs will attempt to turn this into window-dressing) that the primary function of the 2 lay members of the boards, is to ensure that the GPs cannot themselves profit from the way the 'secondary services money' is used. I still think, if the nurse within this group of 4 people who must be on those boards, is arms length from the GPs, as the hospital doctor must be according to the rules, and the 2 laymen must also be arms length from the GPs (not their patients, or accountants, etc), then that is the only way these boards could 'work properly (assuming their role is to introduce wider perspective, and to check on probity).

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  • "So, the posts in this one are 'more reasoned than mine' ? And, don't patients have an interest in their care as well ?"

    I agree but it is also helpful for nurses to have this platform to debate with other nurses about their own issues which also affect patient care and if patients are here discussing their own issues as well it just becomes highly complex and possibly without any useful outcomes. Everybody's comments on their views are welcomed on the site by nurses but not when they become too excessive and dominate the whole debating process. NT is after all predominantly a nursing magazine written for nurses and for the advancement of their careers.

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  • michael stone | 21-Jun-2011 3:00 pm

    What on earth are you talking about?

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 21-Jun-2011 3:42 pm

    I only comment, if I truly believe that my point(s) has validity. I never comment in things purely of interest to nurses, and not to me or patients (there is a difference - I am 'seriously involved' in an ongoing discussion of certain issues with the BMA, etc and I am very informed re that particular debate) such as pay and conditions.
    But to be at all useful, any comment I make needs to be understandable to its typical reader, who is a nurse: of necessity, it is often unavoidable that I explain why my 'perspective' is different from 'yours', or else my points will be misunderstood because of issue which involve 'assumed similarity of perspective'.
    And, I don't 'write' like many nurses write (not always true ' when he isn't ranting, 'mike' has a very similar style to mine) but perhaps that is because I have a doctorate, and 'think like a scientist' ?

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 21-Jun-2011 7:14 pm

    I am not sure that I understand your question.

    But, does it involve this ? These 'commissioning boards' are to spend money which is for secondary care (the hospital stuff, not directly provided by GPs themselves). It used to be PCTs who 'purchased/commissioned' those secondary services, but under this new arrangement, there will be 'commissioning boards' which do the commissioning, and there will be a commissioning board for every 'group of GPs who join together to purchase secondary services for their own patients'.
    This is not 'GP's money' being spent, it is 'patients' money', and there is a danger that somehow the GPs will try and manipulate the commissioning process, so that the GPs profit from the decisions made - the 2 lay persons on the board, are supposed to be preventing that from happening.
    I do not quite understand, why the 'statutory nurse and the hospital doctor' are also there - but, to me. it seems weird if those 2 people are not also 'at arms length from the GPs' (because I thought they were supposed to 'introduce a wider perspective into decision-making, than the GPs would themselves introduce').
    If that is not what you were asking me about, I will give you another answer if you make your question clear (at the risk of being 'attacked' again !).

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