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Frontline care: making a difference

Hi, my name is Ursula Gallagher and I am a new member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Nursing in Practice, and this is my first blog for the journal's website. To share a secret this is my first blog ever!!

I thought I might begin by telling you all a little bit about myself. First and foremost I am a nurse, qualifying in 1986 (that's a bit of a give away isn't it!) and worked in and around London, including at Harefield and Charing Cross Hospitals. I was also Deputy Director of Nursing at Guy's and St Thomas' in the early 2000s. I have a particular clinical interest in respiratory nursing. However, I have spent most of the last 15 years in health authorities, PCTs and primary care working both as a commissioner of services and as a clinical leader trying to model the value of multiprofessional leadership in service redesign and improvement.

Throughout these years I have always kept a strong nursing focus and in 2009 I was seconded to the Department of Health to work on the Prime Minister's Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery in England. It was a really fantastic opportunity to meet and talk with nurse and midwifery students, as well as qualified professionals from all sectors of our profession and in all parts of England (though there was some liaison with the devolved nations).

We heard some absolutely humbling examples of the great work that our professions are doing to improve safety, outcomes and experience for patients, thus really enhancing the quality of people's lives and the health of our communities. However, we also heard some more difficult stories where we are not always delivering care to the standard the public has a right to expect. Some of this evidence was hard to hear but made us all the more determined to ensure our report makes a difference. If you have not seen the Commission's report, Frontline Care, I would urge you to have a look (just tap the name into Google); unlike other such documents it really is an easy read and contains some powerful recommendations for us all.

I am currently the Borough Director for NHS Ealing and co-chair of Ealing Clinical Commissioning Executive Committee. In summary this means that my day job is at the heart of the new world of clinically led commissioning. Ealing Commissioning Consortia is a first wave GP (soon to be known as Clinical!) Commissioning Consortium and has recently taken delegated budgets for mental health, community services, prescribing and diagnostics.

So much of my life is spent meeting and talking to GPs and other clinicians about improving quality of care as well as contracts, budgets and money generally. I am really lucky to have a great team to work with who are motivated to improve things and I know that is not the case everywhere. We have also had nurses, practice managers and patients involved in the consortium from the very beginning and that has really made a difference to our values and approach.

I have also been working with the NHS Alliance to establish a Nurse in Commissioning network to help support nurses and midwives to get their voices heard and to make the contribution we know we can make.

In future blogs I will explain some more about how it is going and how you, too, can get involved.