This is my last edition as editor of Independent Nurse and I would like to thank the many inspirational primary care and community nurses with whom I have worked.
Having joined at the title's launch in 2005, I have experienced, through IN's contributors and readers, the ever-changing NHS landscape, gained real insight into the profession of nursing and come to understand the specific challenges of working in community settings.
Over the years, IN has reported highs, for example, nurses winning the right to prescribe from the full formulary; ongoing battles, such as regulation of advanced practice; and the lows, namely the denigration of nursing, including claims of a lack of compassion in the profession.
The latter has not been apparent in my dealings with primary care and community nurses. Despite constant upheaval, rising patient demand, pay freezes, NHS cost-cutting and media criticism, nurses have continued to put patients first. They have an admirable ability to manage change and to remain innovative. Queen's Nurses, in particular, are a huge credit to their profession.
The frustrating thing is that, despite a long-term, cross-party DH policy of moving care out of hospitals into community settings, politicians have failed to make this happen.
Money has not followed the patient, hospitals have not closed and community services have not received adequate investment. District nursing is in a particularly perilous position, while general practice is being blamed, hypocritically, for the unsustainable pressures on A&E.
Ministers maintain, however, that community services, once overlooked,are the key to the future of the NHS. I can attest to the fact that the community workforce, if genuinely nurtured, supported, regulated and expanded, has the skills and dedication to rise to the challenge.