Nurses' Cure for Ills of A&E: Give Us More Responsibility; 12-Point RCN Wales Plan Calls for Huge Increase in Nurse Prescribers and Practitioners to Treat Patients
Byline: Madeleine Brindley
A HUGE increase in the number of nurses with the power to issue prescriptions will be proposed today as part of a 12-point plan to tackle "unsafe staffing levels" in the profession.
The document, which will be launched today by the Royal College of Nursing in Wales (RCN), calls for improvements to the current out-of-hours medical care system.
The RCN wants to see an increase in the number of nurse prescribers and practitioners to treat patients with minor illnesses.
And it will call for an end to the red tape rules, which mean nurses have to re-train if they move to a different NHS trust, even though they are already qualified to provide a particular service or skill.
The Emergency Care - Call for Action report is the RCN's blueprint for improving patients' emergency treatment and cutting A&E waiting times.
The frontline nurses' recommendations come more than 18 months after the Welsh Assembly Government launched its Delivering Emergency Care Services (Decs) strategy.
The RCN's report states: "It is clear that since 2005 much progress has been made within emergency care in Wales but it is also fair to summarise the progress as inconsistent and lacking in a strategic or holistic approach.
"Emergency care nursing is by definition a highly pressured role but too often our members are finding themselves under pressure from a lack of NHS leadership on key issues such as investment in community care, unsafe staffing levels or a refusal to take advantage of innovative nursing roles.
"This lack of leadership not only translates into poor morale but more importantly into a poor patient experience.
"The 2009 NHS reconfiguration provides the Assembly Government with an unparalleled opportunity to fulfil the promise of the Decs vision."
Two of the key recommendations are an increase in nurse prescribers and nurse practitioners.
The RCN said nurse practitioners, who can diagnose and treat patients within their area of expertise, are "too rare in Wales". Tina Donnelly, director of the RCN in Wales, said: "There is a wealth of evidence to demonstrate that patient outcomes are linked to nurse staffing levels and skill mix. …