Nurses Are Taking Health Care Right to the Heart of Local Communities

Article excerpt

Primary care is experiencing significant change and development. The Government has a clear agenda to modernise services, challenge sectorial and professional boundaries and focus resource allocation on activity that is linked to defined outcomes.

There is an increasing awareness of how health-related community development projects can improve the welling of local communities. Nurses are taking health care right to the heart of local communities, and tackling the social and environmental problems at the root of people's ill health. The aim is for people to receive the right treatment from the right person in the right place at the right time. Many of the innovative developments in primary care rely on a combination of nurses' skill, knowledge, special relationship with patients and community understanding. Nurses are operating across professional boundaries, forging new links with other health care professionals and colleagues from areas like social services, housing and education.

Maintaining good health and managing long-term illness are important goals for making a healthier nation. It is especially important to have quality services for less common chronic illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and mental health, two illnesses that do not always feature in big-volume, target-attracting initiatives like coronary heart disease and diabetes.

My recent visit to Colorado was a good opportunity to draw parallels between the nursing professionals here in Wales and those in Denver. Our colleagues in the United States were very keen to learn more about Welsh nurse consultants and the tremendous impact they have had on the patient experience here in Wales. This is something we should be very proud of within the Welsh healthcare system. Denver, Colorado is about the size of Wales in terms of population and has a similar healthcare budget. We could certainly engage in productive dialogue with the providers of healthcare in Denver with regards to chronic disease management. Everyone who works in the healthcare system had a clearly defined vision, measurable standards and recognised their accountability in delivering services and long-term experiences in helping their patients.

If we want to prevent ill health and improve care and decrease waiting times, then we need to develop nursing roles, investing in primary care and clinical leadership for nurses. …