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NW nurses at heart of deal to enforce quality standards in continuing healthcare

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Nurses are at the heart of drawing up a huge contract for continuing healthcare across the North West, which aims to establish quality standards and a single list of approved care homes.

The deal was sparked by findings from a programme funded by the strategic health authority NHS North West. It identified inconsistency in continuing healthcare choices offered by the region’s 24 primary care trusts, and a lack of focus on patient safety and care in existing contracts.

In response, PCTs across the region are asking continuing healthcare providers to bid for places in a “framework” agreement, which would put them on a list of approved providers and tie them to agreed quality and service standards.

The standards were developed by continuing healthcare leads, mainly nurses, from the PCTs.

NHS Blackpool director of nursing and quality Helen Skerritt said: “For nurses this particular procurement exercise has been a fantastic opportunity to influence and improve the care for some of our most vulnerable people out there.

“At the moment everything is very GP and medically led, and this demonstrates that there are other clinicians around that can have an influence on commissioning,” she told Nursing Times.

Historically, she said continuing healthcare contracts in the region had tended to be “woolly”, with some good commissioning, and other examples where “you would struggle to find a quality standard in the contract”.

The North West deal sets minimum price thresholds, but encourages providers to bid as close to those thresholds as they can.

Ms Skerritt said the framework was “not about setting prices”. “It’s going to make sure all the care homes are very clear that they have a set of specifications they have to meet,” she added.

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