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Allied health professionals and nurses key to NHS Five Year Plan

As eight New Care Model Vanguards are announced, following the first wave of 29 back in March, we take a look at the progress being made to deliver the NHS Five Year Forward View (5YFV) and what this means for those working in healthcare. 

With 37 vanguards now active, we’re beginning to see the blueprints for the future NHS emerging. 

Broadly speaking, these vanguards can be separated into four areas:

  • Integrating primary and acute care (GPs, hospital, community and mental health)
  • Multispeciality Community Providers (transferring specialist care away from hospitals and into the community)
  • Enhanced health in care homes
  • Urgent and emergency care (coordinating services to reduce pressures on A&E)

The successful bidders were selected from a pool of 269, which highlights the appetite for implementing change. What we’re seeing is a complete redesign of primary care. 

It’s expected that the New Care Model Programme will see fewer patient hospital visits, and that there will be single points of contact for family doctors, community nurses, and social and mental health support services. 

From an emergency care point of view, the hope is that it will be much easier and quicker for patients to receive urgent care, seven days a week. 

What does the Five Year Forward View mean for nurses?

For those looking to work directly in a local care setting, the New Care Models Programme looks promising. In terms of recruitment and career opportunities for nurses, our understanding is that some will be recruited into leadership roles within Multispeciality Community Providers (MCPs). Senior nurses will be brought in, as well as other specialists, to work directly with current community nurses to offer an enhanced service. 

NHS England is encouraging change to be led by sites, with frontline clinicians working alongside partners to inform new ways of working.  Therefore, there will be local variations in how community focused healthcare is going to work, and what job roles will be available. 

Allied Health Professionals to play a pivotal role

There’s every indication we’ll see a divergence from the traditional workforce of purely doctors and community nurses in a primary care setting, as more powers are to be given to allied health professionals to assist with delivering the new care model. 

In May 2015, The Chartered Society for Physiotherapy (CSP) for example, made it very clear in a statement back in May, emphasising the role physiotherapists should play in such radical change to primary care:

“Greater use of the physiotherapy workforce within primary care is a cost-effective and clinically-effective way to reduce the pressure on GPs and deliver the whole-person care required of a modern primary care sector.”

Suzanne Rastrick, Chief Allied Health Professions Officer for NHS England, reportedly told the Health Services Journal (HSJ), that the NHS needs to look at what AHPs can offer rather than just focusing predominately on doctors and nurses. 

Plans to give some AHPs the ability to prescribe medicines without the input of a doctor are going to be discussed this autumn. Described by Rastrick as a “hidden profession”, NHS England is currently in support of proposals to give radiographers, paramedics, dietitians, and orthoptists new powers to prescribe. 

Depending on the outcome of discussions with the Commission for Human Medicines in a few weeks time, we could see the emergence of proposals to legislate on new medical prescribing powers. 

It is hoped this would relieve some of the pressures on doctors and nurses and enable them to focus on health concerns that AHPs would not ordinarily attend to. 

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