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NHS England chief executive addresses community nurses

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Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, encouraged community nurses to become more involved in commissioning during his speech at the annual QNI conference .

Delivering his keynote speech on 29 September, Mr Stevens encouraged more nurses to take on commissioning roles. NHS England will soon publish the first Ipsos MORI survey centered on CCGs and whether they listen to staff, he said. Initial responses showed that answers were more positive than last year's, but that results still varied widely across the country.

Mr Stevens and Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer of NHS England, were due to meet with CCG representatives last week to address this. Ms Cummings added that, while they wanted to enhance the role of the CCG nurse, 'we don't want to make nurse roles on a CCG board mandatory just to tick boxes'.

Community hospitals were mentioned as having a greater potential for reducing the number of patients in A&E. They could also work better with local government and the relationship between the two could become more constructive, he said. He acknowledged that this relationship would become more of a challenge for commissioners when they become responsible for commissioning all early years services from October 2015.

Mr Stevens also acknowledged that mental health and learning disabilities services were not as well funded as physical health services. Waiting times for operations have been reduced from 18 months in the early 2000s to 18 weeks today, he said, and similar reductions needed to happen in mental health services. From the beginning of April 2015, waiting time standards would be introduced for key mental health services.

The lack of diversity in the NHS workforce also formed a significant part of the speech. 'We need to recognise that we can only offer services to a diverse population if we have a diverse workforce and managers,' he said. From next year, through a staff survey, NHS England will measure the difference in experiences of BME and non-BME staff.

Mr Stevens also encouraged more nurses to enter the Innovation Fund run by NHS England. This year the projects will focus on improving diabetes care, technology, infection control and rehabilitation.

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