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Role of nurses set to be examined

Experts are to examine the role of nurses and midwives, the prime minister has announced.

Gordon Brown and Health Secretary, Alan Johnson, have unveiled plans to help nurses improve patient safety and provide high-quality care by unveiling a new Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery.

The experts will also consider expanding nursing and midwifery roles to allow them to run more of their own services.

All types of nurses and midwives will be included and the commission will consult members of the NHS, patients and the public. The commission will report to Mr Brown by next March.

Mr Johnson said: "Nurses now have more powers to make real, tangible improvements on wards, in GP centres and in the community. They have taken on far greater responsibility in clinical care, developing their skills as leaders and managers."

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "Nurses and health care assistants have been central to the vast improvements in the NHS over recent years and the existence of this Commission is recognition of just that."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Royal College of Nursing

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Excellent news!!! But haven't we heard all this before from the NMC? And their proposals about advanced levels of practice haven't come to fruition! Nurses have been continually increasing their knowledge and skills and expanding their roles without decent remuneration for ages. I see Agenda for Change has already been mentioned and many GP employed nurses have not seen increased pay and conditions at all - it was all about producing a level playing field wasnt it? With most patient care provision taking place in the primary care sector, and the majority of that care being provided by nurses and other allied healthcare professionals, our employers are failing to recognise and value our contribution." - Linda, Cheshire

"I am very sceptical. I don't think anything will change as far as nurses are concerned. After years of experience, I work in a walk-in/unscheduled care centre. Despite post grad secialist study and 3 years as an independent prescriber, I am still working as a Band 6 along with 90% of my colleagues, with no recognition for the enormous responsibility of diagnosing and discharging patients. We constantly plug the gap of shortage of doctors and beds, take the brunt of critisism of the public and generally keep the wheels of the NHS chugging along. We are a cheap option for this government and their terrible target driven culture. This has always been the case, and will remain so in the future, with nothing but lip service and platitudes from government. Over the last 25 yrs, I have heard these sentiments dozens of times, and nothing has ever changed!" - Name and address supplied

"This is well overdue - the nursing family needs a clear
educational/training  programmen to meet the needs of modern healthcare delivery. Equally, we need a career plan like doctors in our chosen specialty. For example, sexual health is frequently ignored in the pre-reg programme and this is a major public health issue." - Kathy French, London

"A very welcome review, but please do not forget the occupational health nurse specialists and practitioners! Often called the 'Cinderella' department and yet we are so well placed to help keep people in the workplace by getting them back to work or rehabilitating people back to work, being just two of the many things we do." - Penny Lodge, Norfolk

"It's about time our role was reviewed, it has changed immmensly over the last few years. We are automonous practitioners, we have taken on board the junior doctor role, and deserve recognition." - Sandy, Lincolnshire

"I welcome this, as in my role I have lost responsibilities recently; despite having been qualified for over 10 years, the role I do now is basic! Even simple evaluation and assessment is too much for us it seems!" - Helen Nash, Canterbury

"I hope he remembers to include district nurses, as so far, we tend not be mentioned or included at all. We work very hard in coordinating the care in order to prevent patients being admitted to hospital. It is important that our role is included in this." - Jo Ottaway, High Wycombe

"I am encouraged to hear this. There is some outstanding work achieved by nurses in all different types of services. They are well placed to lead and innovate." - Cas Shotter, London

"It is a shame that it only applies to England; and why will the Commission only consult with the NHS, patients and public? What about all the other agencies that the nursing profession is supposed to work with - eg, social services, voluntary sector etc etc?" - Monica Dennis

"We appreciate the prime minister has finally recognised the role of nurses in primary care; however, we belive that since Agenda for Change does not apply to most practice nurses and GPs were given no incentive to implement it for their staff, it seems highly unlikely that this recognition will bring with it any monitory rewards for GP-employed staff." - Karen Barlow, Northampton