At the NHS Alliance spring conference, co-vice-chairs Yvonne Sawbridge and Dr Donal Hynes told Independent Nurse that DoH guidance recommended all clinical members of PECs should have active caseloads to ensure genuine front-line clinicians are making decisions.
However, Ms Sawbridge, a nurse and PCT manager, pointed out that although this was not a concern for most other disciplines 'it is only in recent years that nurses have been able to progress in their professional careers and still hold a caseload'.
She pointed out that many nurses with a talent for thinking strategically had often been forced to leave day-to-day clinical working behind in order to take on PCT management and leadership roles.
PCTs, faced with the possibility of having to invest in lengthy training of front-line nurses before reasonably expecting them to make a valuable contribution to PECs, may choose not to include nurses.
Dr Hynes, a GP and chair of Somerset PCT's PEC, said PCTs would develop job profiles requiring applicants to have an overview of healthcare. 'While this is familiar to a GP, many nursing roles require a more focused viewpoint. Unless PCTs commit to providing support programmes PEC clinicians could end up being all GPs,' he said.
'PCTs must commit to providing support and mentoring for nurses and allied health professionals in the early stages to ensure they have a strategic overview of the commissioning and provision strategy.'
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