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Liberating the Talents - a welcome boost for all PCNs

Marilyn Eveleigh
Consultant Editor

If you have ever felt undervalued and lost your professional direction, take my advice and dip into Liberating the Talents. It is full of practical, do-able and interesting examples of how nursing has changed the way patient services in primary care are delivered. It is short, succinct and clear - and it is written with such infective enthusiasm it makes you want to get up and go.
The NHS Plan, published in 2000, set out the 10-year programme of investment and reform to meet the changing needs of the population. Liberating the Talents is specifically aimed at nurses working in the community setting and in Primary Care Trusts.
In essence it challenges the artificial boundaries created by clinical roles, professional titles and working environments. It extols the virtues of individuals within a workforce who can be flexible while practising safely and who can meet the broad needs of patients at a one-stop shop where patients see the same person and do not have to tell many well-meaning people their story over and over!
It flatters the nursing profession and has high hopes for us to build upon our reputation as the patient's advocate. It values the generalist, yet supports advanced and specialist skills that nurses will inevitably and appropriately take on. Healthcare assistants, telephone support, triage and patient involvement figure frequently in the "what needs to be done" section.
It encourages nurses to become involved in the planning of services in a new way, to develop new clinical roles and to secure better care by improving the working environment. It also gives greater freedom to nurses through effective leadership.
It looks great, it sounds great and it is great - but what is missing is how the achievements were made. What was the process, the politics and the policy changes that were encountered? Many frontline nurses, who have good ideas as well as practical and organisational skills, feel overwhelmed and intimidated by the bureaucracy of the NHS and its structure and hierarchy.
The message is clear - nursing makes a difference. The document shows some of the ways. Check out the timely interview in this issue (page 12) with Kate Billingham, Assistant Chief Nursing Officer, one of the driving forces behind Liberating the Talents. Future issues of NiP will have articles from nurses who have made changes or are working in new ways. These "Innovations in Practice" features will cover the process required to make such changes - so readers can adapt or adopt the same to liberate the talents of nurses in their workplace.
Something else to look out for! NiP is running a major primary care conference in September 2003. Over two days, the key issues for primary care nurses will be debated with professional and political leaders. In addition, there will be clinical workshops, skills update sessions and product exhibitions. Details are enclosed in this edition. Put the dates in your diary - we hope to see you there.
The new GP Contract is likely to be finalised in early 2003. The year promises to be another interesting one for us all.

*Copies of the document are available free from the NHS Response Line
T:08701 555 455
F:01623 724524
E:doh@prolog.uk.com  W:www.doh.gov.uk/cno/liberatingtalents.htm