A senior nursing leader has accused some GPs involved in setting up commissioning groups of “nepotism”, claiming they have appointed their practice nurse wives to decision-making posts.
Royal College of Nursing director of nursing Janet Davies said emerging commissioning consortia – which are due to take over from primary care trusts – should instead appoint experienced senior nurses with the skills needed for commissioning.
Nursing Times’ Seat On The Board campaign is calling for all commissioning consortia to put a nurse on their board, with latest figures suggesting around a third of emerging consortia currently do so.
But, speaking at a conference in London last week, Ms Davies said: “We are already seeing some commissioning consortia appointing their favourite nurses onto the board. We must avoid that nepotism.”
As an example, she said in some cases the nurse on the board was a “GP’s wife”. “They [the nurses appointed] don’t actually have the [commissioning] skills, with some exceptions,” she warned.
Ms Davies also called for the government to develop the status and role of primary care nurses who, she said, were not subject to standard contract terms – unlike those in the wider NHS who were covered by Agenda for Change. She highlighted that GPs could “pay them whatever they want”.
She said if the NHS provided “proper [career] pathways within primary care for primary care nurses…that could help turn around some of the problems and bring the profession on board [with the reforms]”.
Ms Davies said there should be “a new breed of nurses in primary care”, including more “senior nurses and nurse consultants”.
She said nurses should become “the key healthcare provider” in the sector and work “across providers [organisations]”.
She said: “There is missed potential on what we could do with these individuals.”