Scottish community nursing plans spark grave concerns

Health experts have expressed ‘grave concerns’ over job descriptions for nurses issued under a proposed overhaul of community nursing by the Scottish Government.

Four health board areas, Tayside, Lothian, Borders and Highland, are to begin piloting the new system from April.

The scheme is controversial because it creates a generic community nurse role that would scrap health visiting, district nursing, school nursing and family health nursing as separate disciplines.

Four tiers of jobs will be created — staff nurses, community health nurse, advanced practitioners and team leaders. But the job descriptions have sparked further concerns about the experience that nurses will be required to have to take up the posts.

Former nursing adviser to the Scottish Executive Dr Linda Pollock said the job descriptions were a ‘step forward’, because they provided a starting point for nurses to suggest improvements. They also meant that ministers would soon have to reveal how many staff they envisage employing in each role, she said.

But Dr Pollock warned: ‘They are still not clear and need a lot of work. The staff nursing job description makes no mention of needing community or public health experience.’

She also pointed out that the advanced and team leader roles made no mention of experience of working with children. ‘I think that’s an omission,’ she said. ‘I have a worry about whether care of children will be done properly.’

CPHVA professional officer for Scotland Gavin Fergie said: ‘I still have grave concerns about the clinical range nurses will have to deal with. Health visitors’ and school nurses’ work will be sidelined because generic nurses will have to prioritise urgent clinical cases.’

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