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Nurses: grab the opportunity to influence commissioning


The “pause” was thankfully long enough for the government to realise that nurses are important to its NHS reforms and to the commissioning of care.

For a while it didn’t look good. Pundits weren’t sure that there would be any mandatory nurse involvement, and the health secretary repeated again and again that he would not dictate the composition of those boards in charge of commissioning. So finally discovering he had changed his mind last Tuesday felt a bit like being told as a kid you weren’t getting a bike for Christmas only to find a distinctly two-wheel shaped parcel to unwrap on Christmas morning.

What changed? Well we are pretty sure all of you who signed our A Seat on the Board campaign made a difference - and we thank you for coming together and showing the government how much you believe you must be involved in care decisions. And we thank the RCN for supporting our campaign.

Of course, the listening exercise also took in the views of some pretty vocal nurses, and they gave a good account of themselves and the importance of involving nursing. Bravo to them.

Now maybe we’re overstating it, and certainly we haven’t been flooded with photographs of nurses hanging out the bunting at the news. It’s true that many of these boards will have just one nurse and one consultant amid a sea of GPs. Many nurses feel they have already proved the value of nursing and nurses’ intellectual capabilities when it comes to commissioning decisions, but as the government ploughs on with its changes, it’s time to prove that intelligence once more. But instead of feeling that this is too little, too late, and squandering a chance to show what nursing could do, this should be seen as an opportunity.

It may annoy you that nurses have had to fight to get this representation - but how much worse would it have been to have been given no involvement at all? You now have some power and influence to make your case. Be sure to make the most of it.

Jenni Middleton, editor Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed


Readers' comments (6)

  • Absolute rubbish. Should we be 'grateful' to find the present of being 'allowed' to sit on a board? Does anyone else find this patronising in the extreme?

    Nurses should be given an EQUAL say, not merely 'representation'. We shouldn't HAVE to demand it. Especially since that representation is still not set in stone, or wholly clear who or what will actually represent us, (since it seems most Nurses, those who work in hospitals or the community say, will not be allowed to sit on the boards).

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  • michael stone

    mike, a hospital nurse is not 'not allowed to sit on a board' - only not on a board which is sending patients to that hospital (I think you already know that ?).
    I am confused, by the position of district nurses - I currently have no idea, if any DNs are likely to be on the boards.
    By pushing the details into the NHS Regulations, as opposed to putting them into the Bill, the Goverment is seeking to avoid the complexities of 'how this will all work', and the arguments about that, until everyone has stopped looking !

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  • 'Of course, the listening exercise also took in the views of some pretty vocal nurses, and they gave a good account of themselves and the importance of involving nursing. Bravo to them.'
    You seem to have inside knowledge Jenni, I'd like to hear more about that please.

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  • Jenni Middleton

    Mike, I did say that of course it would be good to have even greater nurse involvement, but that we should be grateful for having some representation recognised. In a perfect world, we want more more more, but as I said in a previous blog, having come across other health professionals who have absolutely no say outlined, it is an achievement - however small you may feel it. As for my "inside knowledge", Nursing Times has listened in at the RCN Congress when Andrew Lansley met nurses, and I also know that some nurses were incredibly persuasive of the importance of their role in the listening exercise, because the RCN has been heavily involved in co-ordinating those and has fed back some of the content of those discussions.

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  • Ah! Less mysterious than it first sounded! I'd like to hear more of those discussions, is it possible to publish some of the content. I also listened in on the conference but didn't get to hear these conversations.

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  • No Jenni, I absolutely disagree. In a lot of respects, it would have been better to have nothing at all, because then the RCN and commentators like yourself would not be declaring 'victory', and we as a profession would be able to fight properly for the involvement that we SHOULD have!!! Instead of sitting back and feeling smug and satiated with the few pathetic crumbs that have been thrown our way! I agree that there are others, say pharmacists for example, who have no say at all, and are worse off, but they should be fighting alongside us to HAVE a say!

    On another note, I would be VERY interested to hear the feedback or the content of some of those discussions myself, particularly if the RCN has actually been involved, because from the outside, it looks like they are doing very, very little to represent us.

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