This year's Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP) Forum survey is heartening and disheartening in equal measure.
On the one hand, it demonstrates the dynamism and competence at the heart of nursing, presenting the views of experienced professionals at the top of their game. It provides a snapshot of advanced nurses, keen to continue developing their knowledge and skills; prepared to take on responsibility; and to ensure patients receive high quality care.
On the other hand, it highlights the frustrations and barriers these nurses continue to face. They are being let down by 'the system' which is failing to regulate their practice; to provide accredited training and education; to reward advanced roles, or even recognise these formally.
When I joined Independent Nurse at its launch in 2005, nurses had already been campaigning for regulation of the nurse practitioner title for many years. The preferred title for regulation is now advanced nurse practitioner, but the issue persists and progress is, if anything, going backwards under the coalition government.
With regulation, would come recognition of the role and understanding of its remit. This is vital, since advanced nurses report that, currently, medical colleagues hinder their referrals and fail to provide appropriate remuneration. A third of survey respondents reported that they are not paid under Agenda for Change, reminding us that, for GP-employed nurses, regional pay is already here.
Given the pressures on today's NHS, it is wasteful to maintain a system in which 'nurses need to pass everything by a doctor, regardless of experience or qualifications'. But according to ANP forum members, this mentality still exists. Ministers need to look past the costs and the efforts of introducing regulation, and make it happen. They would reap the benefits almost immediately.