UNISON, the union for nursing staff in the community, today welcomed the government’s decision not to proceed with the project started in 2006 to develop a new post of ‘Community Health Nurse’ which would absorb the jobs of District Nurse, Health Visitor, Public Health Nurse, Family Health Nurse and School Nurse
After prolonged and sustained opposition by UNISON to the threatened generic community nurse over the last three years, Cabinet Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon MSP has now agreed that it is not the way forward.
In a letter to the unions today, Ms Sturgeon confirmed, that she wishes to retain and reinforce the contribution made by existing community-based nurses in the future.
The changes to the community based roles were heralded in the Review of Nursing in the Community at the end of 2006 by the then Chief Nurse for Scotland and have been being trialled in development projects in NHS Borders, Tayside, Lothian and Highland health Board Areas until 2008. From April 2008 the changes began to be implemented, but were then reduced back to pilot projects in the original four areas.
UNISON members and members of other unions were consistently concerned that the dilution of specific skills into a generic ‘Community Health Nurse’ endangered the quality of care given to Scottish people in their own homes and jeopardised the high standard of care offered by health visitors and school nurses in health promotion and child protection.
Bridget Hunter, UNISONScotland’s Lead Officer for Nursing, said:
‘This is a major triumph for our members in community nursing. After almost three years of resistance our concerns have been eventually accepted as valid. Generic community nursing was from day one, deeply unpopular with staff who genuinely believed that it diluted specialist jobs and reduced the service the community was likely to receive. It was seen as aiming low to avoid disappointment, rather than aiming high in our endeavour to achieve excellence, and enhance skills.’
UNISON will now continue discussions with the government and the NHS to modernise community nursing services within a team setting.
Note for Editors:
A briefing from UNISON on the detailed concerns of nursing staffs on the ‘Community Health Nurse’ proposals can be found on the UNISONScotland website at www.unison-scotland.org.uk/healthcare/nursing/index.html