Nurses to deliver modern NHS

6 Apr 00
Nurses and GPs were this week asked to act as frontline midwives in delivering the Blair government's baby of health service modernisation.

07 April 2000

Health Secretary Alan Milburn told the Royal College of Nursing's annual Congress in Bournemouth on April 5 that he would allow hospital nurses to prescribe drugs, give ward sisters control of their maintenance budget and double the number of nurse consultants, the so-called super nurses.

He was expected to offer inducements to GPs in a speech to the National Association of Primary Care conference on April 7.

Milburn hinted that the role of nurses would be further enhanced, saying the new initiatives were a 'first step' to devolving greater responsibilities to clinicians. He said nurses would be in the vanguard of the government's modernisation agenda. 'If we can liberate the talents of nurses then we can free doctors to do what they do best,' he said.

As part of the plans, the Department of Health will spend £10m training 10,000 hospital nurses to prescribe medicines, and give ward sisters control of up to £5,000 each, which they will be able to use for repairs and decorations.

Earlier in the week, RCN general secretary Christine Hancock said the extra money promised in the Budget was a defining moment for the NHS. She urged nurses to grasp the opportunities offered to them in the wake of the chancellor's announcement.

'The opportunities opening up for nursing are huge. The emphasis today is on nursing as a solution,' she added. But she also warned that the government had raised patients' expectations and the public wanted to see real change before the winter. 'The people who deliver and receive health services have got to feel the difference very soon,' she said.

She challenged the government to continue increasing nurses' pay and chief executives of trusts to join with medical professionals to improve patient care.


Did you enjoy this article?