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A vote of confidence in community nursing

Tagged In:  Nursing

A new education and career framework aims to recognise and support the vital role the primary care and community nursing workforce plays in our healthcare system, as well as equipping employers and nursing staff to deliver the vision set out in the Five Year Forward View.

Breaking down barriers between hospital and community care is at the heart of the NHS Five Year Forward View. Therefore, as well as hospital nurses, community nurses too will be at the centre of a transformed healthcare service.

Everyone from health planners to patients recognises the valuable role played by this important sector of the nursing workforce, including the many highly skilled and experienced locum community nurses providing flexible staffing or extra cover in settings across the UK. However, it's also widely accepted that more support and opportunities for personal development are required, so that all community nursing staff can adapt to the changing needs and challenges of our modern society; hence the creation in 2014 of the Transforming Nursing for Community and Primary Care workforce programme (TNCPC). 

Its mission involves 'strengthening innovation, supporting the workforce and improving commissioning practice for district, community and primary care nursing that enables care to be delivered closer to home'.

To drive development of a consistent, national approach to delivering this aim, a new education and career framework was published recently by Health Education England (HEE). It supports standardisation of general practice and community nursing roles and sets out the required skills and education for both. As well as helping nurses plan and develop their own careers in a more structured way, it also aims to inform service planning and education provision, as well as promoting better understanding of community nursing services amongst patients, carers and the wider general public. In November there was a Tweetchat on the new framework which, if you missed it, is worth checking out.

Positive response

Many health professionals have welcomed the publication of the framework, including Marina Lupari, outgoing Royal College of Nursing (RCN) professional lead for primary care and community nursing, who said, "Practice and district nurses have been crying out for a career framework, and so have employers because there was ambiguity and confusion around the skills needed to work in general practice."

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, Director of Nursing at HEE, described the framework as a 'fantastic opportunity'. "I'd like nurses to really embrace the concept, and use everything we've got to be the best we possibly can," she continued. "We are an incredibly dynamic, flexible workforce and we can be trained relatively easily. We can be up-skilled, re-skilled and introduced to new environments, so my message is let's not miss it, let's seize it and forge forward."

In its report 2020 Vision: Focusing on the future of district nursing, the Queen's Nursing Institute endorsed the vital role that community nursing plays in the UK's healthcare system. "It would be wrong to isolate and protect district nursing from the trend towards commissioning and staffing services on the basis of patient needs and pathways," says the report. "Instead, district nursing should be seen as a body of specialist knowledge and practical skills that can contribute to these pathways – particularly care in the home, care of long term conditions and palliative care – as part of an integrated service designed around patient needs." 

It's a strategy that makes a good deal of sense. And with this new education and career framework, the NHS seems to be moving much closer towards making it happen.

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