A group of senior primary care nurses is to establish a forum to push for the involvement of nursing in GP commissioning consortia.
The nursing commissioning network, which will be part of the NHS Alliance primary care organisation, will champion the role of nurses in the GP dominated groups that are to take over control of the bulk of NHS spending decisions in 2013.
One of the nurses involved, NHS Ealing director of quality and clinical leadership Ursula Gallagher, told Nursing Times the network would be launched at the end of January or in early February.
Professor Gallagher, one of the few nurses who is chair of her primary care trust’s professional executive committee, said the network would be seeking to demonstrate the value of nurses to GP consortia.
She warned that, despite recent efforts by the government to talk up the important role of other clinicians in its white paper reforms, the general feeling was that consortia would be dominated by GPs.
She said: “If I’m very honest, some of my [nursing] colleagues feel fragile. The mood music is still doctor, doctor.”
She told Nursing Times: “We need to demonstrate our value. Nurses have the broad understanding of how the health system works and how patients flow through the system.”
She added: “We are often the fulcrum around which everything gravitates.”
Professor Gallagher also highlighted commissioning areas that nurses might be more expert in than GPs, for example continuing care in care homes, learning disabilities, specialist nursing services and workforce development advice.
She told Nursing Times the next couple of years – during the transition from primary care trusts to GP consortia – provided a vital “window” in which to get nurses involved while the new bodies were set up.
Currently around eight to 10 nurses are involved in developing the network across the country, including in London, Liverpool and Essex.
She said she expected the network to initially attract PCT nurses and those in commissioning roles already – like herself – but expected it to be open to all nurses.
The National Association of Primary Care issued a statement this month saying the government’s reforms needed the “input and expertise that nurses bring to the table and the challenge for practice nurses is to get engaged and involved in the new commissioning agenda”.