The merry abandonment of Christmas is a distant memory and the second half of January stretches before us, all self-denial and grey skies. Yet January can be a time of hope and opportunity: new beginnings, fresh ideas, plans and goals.
The A&E crisis has dominated the news since before Christmas. Demand is historically high, hospitals declaring 'significant' or 'major' events, it's the patients' fault, primary care failures are to blame, etc. But this 'bad news' story also offers opportunity, to address the pressures in the NHS and make things better this year.
2015 is a crucial year for the NHS. With a general election, the possibility of a new government, the introduction of revalidation for nurses, and the fruition of some schemes to increase numbers of primary care nurses, the time for change is now. It is the first year of NHS England's Five Year Vision, published in October 2014, which recommended an expanded role for primary care in the NHS of the future. Simply keeping general practice open longer won't fix the wider problem. It will make it easier to get an appointment but a more radical change to the current model is needed to sustain the NHS for more than five years. I look forward to seeing how the Five Year Vision progresses from top-level thinking to practitioner and patient reality.
There are already primary care teams working to keep people out of A&E. Community and practice nurses are going out with rapid response teams, community nurses based in hospitals are liaising with social care to free up beds, and primary care professionals are working in A&E. Replicating successes will be pivotal to securing the NHS's future.
Rita Som, editor, Independent Nurse
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