THE OZONE: Don’t let specialist nursing become the target of funding cuts

THE OZONE. Views from the frontline of health

By Debbie Quinn, a Queen’s Nurse with more than 10 years experience in MS nursing. She has been the MS representative on the Royal College of Nursing’s Neurology Forum, head of professional development at Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and a specialist adviser for the Care Quality Commission.

Debbie Quinn

Don’t let specialist nursing become the target of funding cuts

The NHS is under tremendous financial pressures, but ultimately we need to still deliver high quality care, by the right person at the right time.

While the Five Year Forward View (NHS England 2014) outlines the need to improve health and reduce inefficiencies, it also recognises we are in a global recession and need austerity measures.

Consequently individual healthcare trusts are experiencing a decline in their budgets, resulting in organisational changes. The question remains: how do we ensure the impact of change on staff does not decrease morale, but ensures high-quality care remains core to their business? The Sustainability and Transformation Programme presents us with threats, but we need also to exploit the opportunities of cross-boundary working to enhance patient experience and to secure services within long-term conditions.

Proving the worth of nurse-led services
Specialist nursing is often seen as an easy target for reducing costs, frequently because evidence is not available to support the services they provide and they often represent minority groups. This is compounded by the lack of Government policy supporting these services.

In MS, the MS Trust’s Generating Evidence in Multiple Sclerosis Services (GEMSS) work has enhanced nurse-led services, but specialist nurses need to ensure they continue this work and adopt it within their areas.

MS nursing services are under pressure. Many are understaffed, and with new therapies being added frequently, particularly in the relapsing/remitting area, the constant monitoring and testing adds additional stress. This also impacts on the availability of nursing time for people with progressive MS. This is most often the most vulnerable group, who can be severely disabled and confined to their homes, unable to access hospital-based services.

Those working within specialist nursing need to ensure they maintain their professional development. Nurses working at higher levels need to be educated to degree level and have studied at master’s level for more senior roles.

The Royal Collage of Nursing is currently exploring an advanced practice group, where those considering joining must be educated at postgraduate level. It is clear that in order to be considered a specialist, you need to have been educated to, as well practising clinically at, a high level.

• Debbie is a member of The Ozone, a hand-picked group of health experts brought together by Oyster Healthcare Communications to discuss ideas and share best practice across therapy areas. Follow her on Twitter @debbiequinn29

Read more from Debbie and her fellow panellists in Issue 1 of The Ozone e-magazine.

Published on: February 7, 2017