The government’s language on NHS reforms is now more “inclusive” of nursing, but must be backed up by action to require more involvement from nurses, according to the Royal College of Nursing.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley made a statement to the Commons yesterday in response to increasing political concern about the pace with which the Health and Social Care Bill was moving through parliament.
During the statement – in which he announced a pause in the bill’s introduction – Mr Lansley referred to “doctors and nurses” rather than just “doctors”, appearing to mark a conscious move away from focusing the reforms largely on the role of GPs.
There has been growing pressure from organisations, such as the Royal College of Nursing, for the legislation to recognise the importance of nurses and other health professionals in the new GP led consortia that will take over most spending decisions from primary care trusts.
RCN head of policy development Howard Catton said Mr Lansley’s language when speaking about the reforms was “now inclusive” of nursing.
He told Nursing Times he thought the health secretary recognised that nursing could make an important “contribution at the top table” of commissioning consortia.
But he said this understanding needed to be backed up by action, with consortia required to have a nurse sitting on the board of every consortia – as called for by Nursing Times in our Seat on the Board campaign.
He said: “His language is now inclusive. He talks nursing very well, but what we now need to see is that translated into a requirement to have nursing seat on the board [of GP consortia].”
Mr Catton highlighted the pause in the introduction of the bill as an opportunity to back up his words with action.
“Nurses will want to see pragmatism ,” he said. “If we don’t, it could create even more difficulties [for the reforms]”
MPs from the influential commons health select committee also called today for the bill to be amended so it was compulsory for GP consortia to include a nurse on their board.
In his statement, Mr Lansley said he wanted to create a service “where the power to deliver is in the hands of local doctors, nurses, health professionals and local communities”.
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