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A landmark issue for NiP - and still going strong!

Marilyn Eveleigh
Consultant Editor

Looking back, NiP has come a long way, in changing times. First published in 2001, it was a new concept that was published quarterly for free, sitting alongside strong subscription-based journals for practice and district nursing and health visiting.

At this time, district nursing was one of the oldest and most popular nursing disciplines. It was provided by the NHS, was management led and had a clear profile. Practice nursing was a very new and novel nursing service that was outside the NHS but served NHS patients. GPs were the employers, the role (and pay) was hugely variable with standards of training determined by the practice, guided by health authorities in some cases.

After 50 editions, it is evident the roles and responsibilities of the NiP readership have changed. Health visitors have reviewed their role and new brands of nursing have emerged to reflect the shift from acute hospital care. We have welcomed community matrons, walk-in centre nurses, independent nurse prescribers, continence care, private agency, independent nursing homes, pharmaceutical company nurses and many more, all who contribute to or lead in chronic disease management, health promotion and prevention.

The lone working and independent decision-making that characterises community/primary care nursing has been accompanied by a need for broad and diverse knowledge base as patients demand a one-stop service.

In reviewing my previous columns, of the topics I was moved to highlight, moan about or fear, some are now mainstream:

  • Love it or hate it, QOF (the GP contract for quality) has made clinical care into organised, evidence-based patient services.
  • Walk-in centres, GP-led health centres and Darzi centres are largely staffed and run by nurses.
  • Agenda for Change is embedded in NHS organisations but is largely ignored by independent and private nurse employers.
  • The smoking ban in public places is supporting the nursing message and early evidence suggests it has reduced heart attacks by 10%.
  • Infection control and the reduction in healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) is high on the government and patient list of concerns. Nursing has reclaimed its role and status in ensuring standards are in place.
  • Palliative care offers more choice in how and where patients die through nursing contribution and support.
  • The skills required in nursing homes are continually rising as early hospital discharge is the norm.
  • IT and mobile phones are fundamental to communication and record keeping, and e-learning is now commonplace. The public expects nursing to have such basic but sophisticated technology.
  • Education and skill development continues to demand time and resources reflecting the evidence base and accountability
  • in healthcare.

The NiP package has adapted to and supported such changes. As well as the hard copy journal, there is now also a website
(nursinginpractice.com) offering the latest healthcare news; an archive of every issue; a live Forum for debate and advice, and much more. Accessible through free registration, the number of hits on the website indicates high usage by a diverse workforce. The demand for continuing professional development (CPD) and linking to other primary and community nurses has made this a strong favourite.

The NiP Events have mushroomed to eight annual national conferences throughout the UK and the NiP annual Awards are attracting growing attention, applications and status.
Three special mentions exist for me over the past 50 editions.
First, the enterprise and professionalism of community and primary care nurses has been hugely influential in shifting care out of hospitals. Chronic disease management now rightly belongs in primary care with the patient.

Second, although it has further to go, the development of a national tool for practice nursing to address the continuity in clinical competencies, training and employment has been needed and welcomed.

Third, the unfailing energy and enthusiasm of the background NiP team who invent new ways to make the content relevant and accessible to nurses, dragging many of us into new technology. They have sought key nurse leaders, authors and opinion leaders to ensure readers are kept informed. They have secured the continuing free provision of the journal, conferences and website by effective sponsorship - no mean feat in a time of recession.

My predictions for inclusion in the next
50 editions?

  • There will be a crisis in nurse staffing levels in the community. Retirements are unlikely to be mitigated by new nurses and returners.
  • Regardless of the political party in power, there will be an increase in private healthcare providers that will impact on the nursing workforce and remuneration.
  • Registration of healthcare organisations with assurance bodies such as the Care Quality Commission is to become a requirement. Nursing will be fundamental to ensuring standards are in place and there is evidence to prove standards are being met.

NiP will continue to contribute to the skills and confidence of the nursing profession to meet new healthcare challenges - healthcare we will all call upon in the future.