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RCN calls for nurses on GP consortia

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Chief called on the government to give greater recognition to nurses within the new health reforms.

RCN Chief Executive, Dr Peter Carter, said he would be satisfied if it was mandated that a nurse was on every Consortia board.

He was speaking today at a meeting of the Health Select Committee in Westminster to listen to evidence regarding GP commissioning.

He said that at present it was wholly unclear where the nursing presence and leadership would be.

"We have seen examples within the UK where, in an absence of nurse leadership, you do end up having serious issues with the quality of patient care.

"That's why we think that it should be written into the statute  to ensure that nurses have adequate representation," he said.

Mr Carter said that currently the bill leaves nurse involvement up to local choice which could result in missed opportunities and 'patchwork' care.

The Committee, chaired by Conservative MP, Stephen Dorrell, was listening to oral evidence from an expert panel that also included Dr Clare Gerada from the RCGP and Mike Sobanja, Chief Executive of NHS Alliance.

The panel were also questioned about their feelings about abolishing GP practice boundaries, accountability of those commissioning services and contingency plans for consortia that find themselves in financial difficulty.

We asked: would you like to be on a consortia? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"I am actually in a GP consortia, and the training has been fantastic. We are making a real difference to the delivery of patient-centred care" - Nicola, Wigan

"Yes please!" - Katrina Malone, Rugby

"I have real concerns about the lack of nursing input into the development of GP consortia. In my area there are meetings taking place in preparation to setting up GP consortia and I am not aware of any nurses taking part. As a Nurse Practitioner with over 10 years of primary care experience I would be very keen to take part. I just don't know how to!" - Michelle Davidson, Somerset

"Yes it would be good for the nurse profession. GPs and nurses can learn skills from each other and the GP can be the lead and the nurse on the 2nd level, in charge of running the unit" - Karen Brewerton, West Midlands

"I work as a Nurse Practitioner and was fortunate to be able to attend a meeting on Wednesday which was arranged by our PCT to discuss the future consortium. The invite had been sent out to GPs and Practice Managers only. As I am currently in a fairly unique position being employed by the PCT I asked if I could attend. I was very concerned, yet not surprised,that I was the only nurse there. One of my colleagues who works
in a nearby GP run practice asked if she could attend and was told by the GP it wasn't for nurses. I was able to make reference to my feelings about the unfair representation of nurses at the event, and many people agreed that nurses, who usually generate most of the practice income, should be
involved in large numbers, as should other members of the wider practice team. It boils down to things again being governed and decisions for the future of practices being decided by mainly male GPs and nurses need to make a stand for this to change" - Louise Lewis, Bradford