Change is most effective in the NHS when it is initiated - and led - by health professionals, with input from patients; least effective when driven by politicians and the desire to make short-term cost savings.
Nurses and doctors know this to be true and even MPs acknowledge (when it suits them) that nobody understands frontline services like the professionals who run them and the patients who use them.
Ministers are urging nurses to get involved in commissioning. Writing in Independent Nurse (7 May), the health secretary went as far as to say 'you cannot do it without nurses'. He added: 'Nurses need to fully embrace and demand the opportunities the new system presents.'
For once, we agree. Of course, not all nurses can have a direct role on the boards of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs); however, there really are other ways to get involved. If you are wondering how to make this happen in your area, please take a moment to read IN's latest column on 'Practical Commissioning' (p43), in which CCG chair and practice nurse Andrea Gupta describes her group's efforts to ensure local practice nurses have an opportunity to influence and understand the commissioning agenda.
She explains that St Helen's Health (shadow) CCG is taking on a 'practice nurse development lead' to establish strong relationships and two-way communication. She is more than happy to share this role specification with other nurses and CCGs.
Unfortunately, for every group working hard to include nurses, there are several CCGs disinclined to do more than take on the required executive nurse. He or she will bring clinical leadership and a nursing perspective, but not grassroots knowledge.
Are you succeeding in gaining influence in commissioning or facing barriers to inclusion? Please let us know by emailing us at: IN@markallengroup.com