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Out-of-hours community nursing - a challenge too far?

At the RCN Congress yesterday delegates discussed the role that the community nursing team has long been playing in providing out-of-hours (OOH) care, and how they now need to step up and take this forward. Mark Whiting, Chair of the RCN Community Children's Nursing Forum, who proposed the discussion, pointed out that if you were to believe the media, you would think that OOH is completely in the hands of the GPs.
"I am not in denial that GPs have a role to play, but nurses will shoulder much of the responsibility," he described. He emphasised the significance of this agenda to nurses and urged them to step up and make their voices heard.
One nurse, Pat Botterill, pointed out that there has been so much change in recent years and there is now so much choice for patients, that many don't really know when OOH starts and ends. She urged delegates to "engage your public, but use terminology they understand."
Another delegate, Keira Jones, described how the community nurse provides an essential link between the patient and the GP, and how OOH nursing services are under increased pressure as more and more complicated patients are allowed home. "We need to celebrate the flexibility and adaptability of our nurses while making sure they are adequately supported."
David Dawes, Director of Entreprenurses and the European Nursing Leadership Foundation, sees this as a massive opportunity for nurse entrepreneurs. "I have seen some really innovative projects and high-quality services run by nurses," he described. "And often when nurses are running these services, they are a lot less concerned with money but instead are driven by best practice."
However, it was also felt that too few nurses couldn't possibly provide more and more care, and several delegates pointed out that if OOH is really to succeed then it would need more investment.

Do you feel nurses contribution to OOH services are overlooked? Should nurses play a bigger role here? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"Nurses shoulder much of the responsibility of the current changes, that resposibility is expected rather than rewarded as much of NHS work undertaken today. GPs have a significantly lesser role in most aspects of current change." -  George Cimarosti, Case Manager