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Practice nurses are required to coordinate care

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Practice nurses should not be forgotten in the integration of primary and social care said Marina Lupari, the RCN's professional lead for primary care and community nursing.

In response to a report by the RCGP and The College of Social Work released last month, she said that practice nurses had a 'key role to play as coordinators of care.'

The report, GPs and Social Care Workers: Partners for Better Care , stated that the barrier between health and social care needs to be removed by providing more education for both professions so staff have a better understanding of each others' role. It argued that integration would be the 'cure' to the problems of financial stability by focusing on 'preventing ill-health, supporting self-care, enhancing primary care and providing care in people's home and in the community.'

Ms Lupari said: 'Practice nurses work with patients and their families over time, and so have a great understanding of the patient's needs. A lot of the coordination that would need to be done (if health and social care were integrated) could be done by a practice nurse, particularly if there is a clinical need. The role of the practice nurse in the future could be to work with the patient, identify their needs, and then identify the relevant professional to refer them to - to coordinate their care effectively.'

However, she also thought that it was 'disappointing' that practice nurses were not mentioned until the 161st point out of 169 in the report, saying: 'We need everyone involved in patient's care to contribute to achieve the changes required.'

She also expressed concerns that the system could become 'confused'.

Ms Lupari acknowledged the report was well-timed, when there was a 'fantastic political will to evolve primary care nursing.'

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