After all, who would ever assume the bulk of NHS care commissioning could be done effectively without the involvement of the largest group of health professionals.
Except it wasn’t a no-brainer was it? What are now CCGs were originally to be GP commissioning consortia, and there was no requirement for GPs to involve nurses - or any other health professionals for that matter. As a result of pressure from many quarters, including our own A Seat on the Board campaign, the government came up with a less contentious name for the consortia and made it mandatory to involve other professionals.
So now the NHS and Social Care Act has passed into law, and like it or not, health professionals have to make it work for the good of their patients. But it seems the battle for nurse representation on CCG boards isn’t over. As we revealed last week, CCGs will not be allowed to take on their duties unless they have a nurse on their board - but they are free to design the nurse’s role, and there are wide variations in the status of nurses on CCG boards.
Most health professionals agree that making the new NHS work is going to be difficult at best. But if nurse involvement on CCG boards is just a token gesture, it will be nigh on impossible. It took years for hospitals and trusts to accept the value of appointing directors of nursing in the first place, and even longer for them to see the value of making them board members. Surely the profession isn’t going to have to fight the same battle all over again with CCGs. If commissioning is to be led by health professionals then the ones who spend most time with patients and look at them from a holistic perspective must be fully involved in the process.