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College of Nursing calls for creation of new specialist nurses

12 June, 2000

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has made recommendations for the creation of a new strain of specialist nurses. The RCN said NHS beds could be freed up if, for example, nurses specialising in the treatment of the elderly were drafted in to care for those who were well enough to go home but still needed medical attention.

The report was developed from the "ideas and innovations of nurses who work at the frontline of services", who are involved with hands-on patient care.

The report highlighted a number of number of areas of concern including:

  • Different priorities, cultures, professional boundaries and systems of various agencies being involved in long term care and support can also impede true partnerships working.
  • The creation of a new type of elderly people's nurse was suggested, with specialist nurses working across boundaries to provide specialist care skills wherever needed.
  • Increasing the capacity of community based nursing staff, ensuring 24-hour access to health care teams wherever possible.
  • Enhancing the role of specialists for conditions, for example Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.
  • Developing specialist nurse-led immediate care and rehab services.
  • Increased use of technology to improve patient empowerment. This involves websites such as NHS Direct Online and digital television and computer games to provide people with a better understanding of health issues.