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transferring community services

Editor, Sue McNulty wants GPs to move onto community services 'turf'

‘Keep asking' says the GP as he beams at me.

I should point out gritted teeth are in the middle of the beam and it has eyes above it that say ‘I need to go off work with stress soon'.

I had just asked the GP if he could make the case for my mum's district nursing team to come in more often to tend a wound she had.

Some days they came, some days they didn't.

Sometimes it was a nurse, sometimes it was a non-clinician. I tried to contact them to visit more often but was being fobbed off. I was now asking my GP to contact them on our behalf to make a clinical case for more frequent visits. ‘Ask them' he replied. ‘I already have' I replied and that was when the scary beam came in. Community services were definitely not his turf and he was not prepared to go onto it.

So OK I know every blog of mine seems to involve a family member, well this one is about my late parents.

Dad had Alzheimer's for seven years. His community nurse, Sue White, was key to getting us through it.

Sue stayed in touch, returned calls promptly, checked we were all doing OK, sorted respite and homesitters and gently let us know what the next stage might be so we could prepare.

Social services on the other hand got in touch with us twice during the seven years to ask if we needed any aides around the home - their notes didn't show it had already been adapted.

The point I'm making is that the standard of community services is hugely variable.

I attended a King's Fund conference this week and heard David Stout of the NHS Confederation suggest community services might be best divided up and put to a home closest to their own – community matrons which help patients be discharged earlier become part of acute trusts, others with local authority, some to general practice, while others would go to mental health trusts.

Yet with the deadline for PCTs to have a organisational form agreed ‘in principal' just days away this perfectly sensible idea isn't going to see the light of day. GPs who have tried to be involved in transforming community services have been brushed off according to some reports.

I think it was Dr Judith Smith of the Nuffield Trust who asked at the same event whether the policy should be renamed transferring community services?

Editor, Sue McNulty