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SCUBY Belgium - Colloquium on integrating nurses into primary care: “the new first line practice”

On Saturday 23rd October 2021, a colloquium was organized at the University of Antwerp on how to transform GP practices to first line (primary care) practices, whilst integrating nurses. To organise this conference, SCUBY collaborated with different partners: the SPICES project and the Academy of Primary Care (i.e. two other research projects), and the Postgraduate course nursing in GP practice (VIHP).

Katrien Danhieux

Evidence was presented from different perspectives on how to integrate nurses in primary care and how to facilitate interprofessional collaboration in primary care, from a policy perspective, and a researcher perspective. Two civil servants from the Flemish Agency of Care and Health spoke about plans and policies enacted in primary care, including the Primary Care Zones and the Digital Health Plan. Different research projects were presented. The need for a value framework to guide our policies in formulating health care goals and a clear long-term vision was highlighted, as well as the patient perspective in measuring care integration. Furthermore, two study cases were presented, exploring the relevance of practice organization type (e.g. a monodisciplinary or group GP practice vs a multidisciplinary practice) in integrated care delivery for diabetes and another emphasizing the important characteristics of flexibility and intensity of participatory action research in cardiovascular prevention.

Left: Roy Remmen; right: Josefien Van Olmen

The second half of the Colloquium consisted out of a debate with five panel speakers, representing different entities, including a GP scientific association/syndicate and a nursing association (in Dutch ‘het middenveld’; i.e. meso-level representative organisations), the Flemish and Federal public health administration (policy level), and a Primary Care Zone (loco-regional coordination level). Key points of discussion were the benefits of a nurse in primary care, the quality of the EHR, data sharing, task shifting and the health financing (reimbursement) system. There was consensus among panelists regarding the benefits of integrating nurses into primary care, but important structural challenges remain.

The Colloquium officially ended with some final messages from the director of the VIPH and a successful networking reception, in which ties were tightened between the SCUBY team and the policy makers.

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