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Three-minute interview: Howard Catton

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Three minute interview on specialist nurses, with RCN head of policy Howard Catton

What is happening to specialist nursing posts?

Previously, when the NHS was in deficit specialist nurses were particularly vulnerable. And we have now discovered that, despite the fact the NHS is back in financial balance, managers are still cutting these posts. Specialist nurses are critical to the delivery of new models of care but it seems NHS managers are going to rely on blind optimism.

What will the effects of these cuts be?

We are expecting the Lord Darzi review in July and this will require the NHS to deliver care closer to home and in the community - this will mean a key role for specialist nurses. The NHS needs these staff, they are gold dust. If they are cut back that will prove a serious impediment to the delivery of policy and it will also be very difficult for future recruitment and retention.

Despite the NHS financial turnaround, our recent survey shows that 20% of specialist nurses still fear they will be made redundant. We are disappointed by the findings but it goes beyond that it is about the ambition of government and health policy, how on earth can they deliver that ambition if specialist nurses continue to be targeted for cuts?

What do you want to happen?

The NHS is no longer in deficit and specialist nurses are needed, their star should be in the ascendancy. We need to keep them and ensure that they are doing to job they are trained to do. The NHS failure to value specialist nurses is a real worry.

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