The recently published NHS England Five Year Forward View provides a great opportunity for nurses working in community and primary care services to become involved, if not to take the lead in the provision of new models of care.
It is written in plain language and is a great read. It mentions community no less than 34 times in its 40 pages, which provides a good indication of the views of the chief executive of the NHS in England, Simon Stevens, concerning where the future lies in supporting the health of the population.
There is a strong emphasis on the care of people with long term conditions, both physical and mental, and the systems that need to be in place to allow models of care to emerge to meet the needs most appropriately at a local level. There is a welcome recognition that the balance of funding needs to change in order to truly realize the mantra of moving care closer to home.
Nurses working in GP practices and district nursing services will be encouraged to know that their skills and knowledge are, by implication, highly valued in the report. Nurses in the community are the professionals who will ensure that the new models of care work. They are integral to the support of people with long-term conditions, providing person centred, partnership oriented services, which recognise that the patient is frequently the expert in their own condition.
Nurses are also great team players – knowing when to refer to colleagues and when to ask for help – and we thrive on being a part of a team where the focus is on maximizing the health and wellbeing of patients, carers and families. We also offer support in a way that recognises that, for the vast majority of time, those with long-term conditions manage their own condition day-to-day without the oversight of a health professional.
I urge you to read the report and consider how you might become involved in the proposed new models of care. There is a great opportunity here for community nurses to step up and take a truly central role in the future health and wellbeing landscape.