“Upfront” conversation with public needed
There is a need for an “upfront” conversation with the public about the kinds of services that the NHS can deliver, RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe has said.
Fyffe told Holyrood that as demand continues to increase, “difficult” decisions will have to be made.
She welcomes Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont’s call for a review of Scotland’s NHS, and agrees that an “open and honest” public debate is now necessary.
“If you don’t engage with the public people become obsessed with what they believe is being taken away from them without understanding that the model could be different,” Fyffe explained.
“What the public will fear is that the whole thing becomes about centralisation and when it becomes about centralisation it is always about the centre of Edinburgh or Glasgow. So the public really want to know what it is that they should have locally. If you took the spirit of integration truly, it is about localisation. And it means that services where they should be and can be local are there. And if the engagement of the public were to happen we would have to ensure that they understood that. But we have already done that with specialities where the outcomes were proven to be better within centres, not necessarily the centre of Scotland,” she says, giving the examples of the Children’s unit in Aberdeen and the Golden Jubilee, which is home to regional and national heart and lung services, and is also a major centre for orthopaedics.
Fyffe also pointed out that while the Scottish Government can rightly claim that nursing numbers have increased, it has been in response to a growing demand. And she expressed her frustration that some boards are increasing numbers while attempting to make savings by reducing the range of nursing expertise, which she says “misses the point.”
She added: “Unless we think it through people are going to keep gerrymandering the work force in every way they can to make the savings. And that doesn’t address safe, effective patient-centred care.”
You can read more about RCN Scotland’s new ‘Nursing on the edge’ campaign, which will showcase the work of nurses to tackle health inequalities, in the next issue of Holyrood, out Monday.