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Extend roles, don't create new ones, urges think tank

Joined-up skills can bridge gap between health and social care sectors, says health charity

Using the skills of nurses to bridge gaps rather than create new roles would improve integrated care, argues think tank The King's Fund.

In a report out today, the health charity advocates extending nursing and other healthcare professionals responsibilities to include patients with chronic conditions in primary care, as well as first contact care. It says this would improve integrated care in the health and social care sectors.

Care pathways

The authors say there is little evidence to support the development of new roles in the health sector, so organisations should consider using ‘multidisciplinary teamwork and integrated care pathways’ instead.

The report’s lead author and a fellow in health policy at The King’s Fund, Helen Gilburt, said: ‘Too often the assumption might be that to deliver integrated care, you need to create a new role [but] it is much more compelling to utilise the existing skills of the workforce more effectively and engage staff in identifying and implementing workforce solutions themselves.’

Preferential treatment

Concerns were raised about nurses in some enhanced roles, for example nurse cancer care coordinators. The authors argue their existence could lead to inequality in access to treatment. This is due to an increased focus on one group of patients, which could lead to preferential treatment.  

The report can be accessed at The King's Fund website (£)

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