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