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The WHO Europe Family Health Nursing Pilot in Scotland: Final Report



by the Chief Nursing Officer

Photo of Paul Martin - Chief Nursing Officer, Scottish Executive Health DepartmentPeople in Scotland were very aware back in February 2001 that we were embarking on a bold experiment in community nursing as the first cohort of students on the Family Health Nursing programme took their places at Stirling University.

We could see that the Family Health Nursing project offered the potential for a different approach to the community nursing service, one which focused on families and which set health improvement and illness prevention high on its list of priorities alongside disease management.

Five years further on, we can see that our initial optimism and excitement about the role was fully justified.

Family Health Nurses have now taken their place as vital parts of community-based health services, working as members of primary care teams in the remote and rural areas of Scotland where the project was first launched. They also made significant contributions to services in urban areas during Phase 2 of the project. Patients have come to understand their role and enormously value the contribution Family Health Nurses make. They particularly like the fact that when they see a Family Health Nurse, they are seeing someone who knows them, their family and their community, and who has the knowledge, skills and tools to assess health status, offer treatment and advice and refer to appropriate specialist services when necessary.

The development of the role has been taken forward by a strong partnership involving the Scottish Executive, WHO Europe, NHS Boards, community-based health professionals, communities, educators and researchers. It has been guided by the National Implementation Group and Family Health Nurse National Forum ( see Appendix 1), to whose members I pay

warm tribute for their dedication to making the role work for Scotland's communities.

This final report of the Family Health Nurse project in Scotland is a vital part of the nursing response to our national health policy, Delivering for Health. The report and the knowledge gained from conducting the project over the last five years have had an enormous influence on the development of the Scottish Executive Health Department action plan for nursing, midwifery and the allied health professions, Delivering Care, Enabling Health which will be published soon, and on developing future models for the delivery of nursing care in the community.

The Family Health Nurse multinational project has provided us with a unique opportunity to contribute to the strategy for nursing across the WHO Europe Region. Being part of the international community of nursing has enabled us to work in partnership with member states, looking beyond the borders of Scotland towards global solutions to the challenges of providing sustainable, safe and effective services to our populations.

I am proud that Scotland has responded to the challenge of testing the Family Health Nursing role. We have learned much from the project about the importance of managing the process of change and the value of the service-user's voice in shaping new roles to meet defined needs. I now look forward to the next stage in the evolution of this exciting and important nursing role.

Paul Martin
Chief Nursing Officer
Scottish Executive Health Department