Unsuitable and inexperienced nurses are being appointed onto clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), risking the loss of the patient voice.
Speaking at an event hosted by Management in Practice’s sister title Nursing in Practice, Paul Vaughan, West Midlands Regional director at the Royal College of Nursing, said he has been made aware of the practice through surveys of nurses in the West Midlands area.
However, he stressed there is evidence to show the problem is that of a national one, and is not any more prevalent in any one region in England.
Vaughan told MiP that electing the wrong nurses into CCGs risks quality commissioning, bad decision making and a danger that the patient voice will be “lost”.
He said the expectation for nurses to “step up to the plate” to perform a completely different role at a different level is a “step too far”.
“SHAs are too focused on training GPs for commissioning roles and have forgotten all about nurses,” said Vaughan.
“Nurses have had to fight much harder than GPs to get to this position and they are not being extended the same courtesy in education deliverance.”
GPs are also failing to recruit nurses into CCGs in an open and transparent way, Vaughan claimed.
When asked why GPs are masking the CCG appointment process, Vaughan rejected the notion that it is a deliberate ploy by GPs for their own gain, and instead doubts whether they have given any thought at all to the benefits a nurses can bring to commissioning.
“They are simply ticking a box,” he said.
Superisingly, Vaughan places the onus squarely on nurses to be the one to recognise whether they are up to the job in a commissioning capacity and warns not to leave it to GPs.
While nurses have been granted a place in CCGs, they have been told they must sit on a group outside of their local area if there is a chance a conflict of interest may arise.
It is widely acknowledged commissioning GPs may face the very same problem of possible conflicts of interest, but the same rule does not apply.
“This is the government saying ‘We don’t trust you nurses’,” Vaughan told MiP.
“It is absolutely baffling and it makes me mad.”