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RCN raises fears over GP consortia

A Royal College of Nursing survey has found commissioning consortia are 'ploughing on', despite a pause in legislation implementing them.

The government has declared a pause in the progress of its health bill, which will put consortia in place in England. But Royal College of Nursing (RCN) research found it is setting up structures that are new, not consistent with each other and may not be properly accountable.

The RCN has re-stated its belief that when the bill returns to parliament a clause should guarantee, by law, there is a nurse on every consortia board.

It asked for information from 162 consortia and found less than one in three - 30.5% - have a nurse on the board.

The organisation has welcomed the pause as an opportunity to reflect on the huge changes proposed but said it is alarmed by the reality - that consortia are implementing structures without waiting for the findings of the NHS Future Forum.

The RCN has been calling for nurses to have a guaranteed role in commissioning services since the white paper was published last year.

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, said: "We have welcomed the government's listening exercise as an opportunity to reflect and to achieve a good outcome for patients.

"However, while the listening exercise has been going on, events on the ground have not stood still, and 90% of people in England are now covered by pathfinder consortia. Nurses are a hugely important part of any commissioning team, because they follow the patient throughout their care and have a unique range of skills and experience."

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Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"This finding by the RCN is very significant as it affords us some insight into the government's arrangement and plans for the future management and delivery of healthcare in this country. If the current reform is for better outcomes for patients as claimed by the government, why was nurses' involvement at all levels of the arrangement not considered primary? After all, who plays the leading role in ensuring positive outcomes for patients - it is nurses. Nurses know
healthcare delivery inside out, so it is only professionally and
economically right to place nurses at the centre of any and every health commissioning arrangement because they (nurses) understand the primary needs of the patients more than any other person you could possibly find on those commissioning consortia. Yes to NHS, no to privatisation through the back door. I am just concerned that huge private
involvement (financial) will change the focus and philosophy of the NHS from patient care to productivity (financial returns on investment, bonus etc) to please the investors. Remember what is happening to Southern Cross presently. Their problem could be traced directly to the involvement of private equity firm in 2006. The financiers creamed off millions from company while leaving care of the elderly to suffer" - Geoffrey, Wandsworth