Primary care nurses urged to become more involved in PECs

Primary care and community nurses are being encouraged to sit on professional executive committees (PECs) after the DoH announced changes to the way they are governed.

Rosemary Cook, director of the Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI), said nurses have a 'great deal' to contribute to PEC business.

Her comments follow the release of DoH guidance on running PECs, which suggest clinicians should be in the majority on committees and that all members should be appointed on the basis of their skills, competencies and ability to lead.

Under the arrangements, which should be implemented by 1 October, PCTs can determine the structure and format of PECs according to local needs. They will also be able to draft in extra members for particular challenges.

According to Ms Cook, community nurses have detailed information on the way services work in practice, where the gaps are and how patients feel about their care.

'They are ideally placed to help review services, and develop new approaches as well as bringing a public health perspective,' she said.

'Members of the QNI's PEC nurse network say they develop key skills in strategic thinking, understanding of planning and finance issues and influencing the future of services.'

Alison Wall, health visitor and child protection professional lead at West Hertfordshire PCT and an ex-PEC nurse welcomed the approach.

'When I was a PEC nurse it was difficult to know what was expected and how you fitted in,' she said. 'To spell it out via job descriptions [as is proposed in the guidance] will be much better.'

Dr Michael Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance, said that the guidance would reassure clinicians that their input is valued.

'It will also encourage front-line clinicians to support the PEC and their PCT. That is particularly important for the success of practice-based commissioning,' he said.

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