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The role of a professional nurse advocate: empowering patient rights

A professional nurse advocate converses with a nurse in an office.

The Professional nurse advocate: roles and responsibilities

The role of the nurse has evolved over time, and nurses now play an important role in the health and well-being of people. Nurses, as healthcare professionals, play an essential role in promoting and defending their patients' rights. These rights include the right to receive high-quality care, the right to make decisions about their care, and the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Nurses perform an important role in healthcare, and their patient advocacy is critical to ensuring that everyone receives the best possible treatment. They have a unique ability to spot possible issues and suggest solutions that can improve patient outcomes. 

In recent years, there have been many innovations in the healthcare system in the UK. Patients in the UK are now receiving more sophisticated treatments, and nurses are ensuring that they are provided with the best healthcare. Patient advocacy is an important aspect of nursing practice because it promotes patient-centred care

In this article, we will explore what professional nurse advocate is, their duties, and the importance of their role in ensuring optimal patient outcomes in the UK. 

What is a professional nurse advocate (PNA) in the UK? 

A professional nurse advocate is a registered nurse whose primary role is to protect patients' rights and represent their interests in order to keep the quality of care they receive. These nurses serve as a liaison between patients and the doctors who treat them, assisting patients in better understanding their diagnosis and making the best decisions moving forward. For example, after the doctor prescribes the treatment plan, the professional nurse advocate assists the patient and their family in understanding their condition or diagnosis. 

Every patient is unique, having their own beliefs, values, and preferences, and it is inevitable to have some conflict between patients and their doctors. This is where a professional nurse advocate comes into play, as they will help find solutions that work for both parties. Although every nurse is theoretically an advocate, specific positions within nursing allow nurses to concentrate mainly on patient advocacy. 

They work with healthcare providers, nurse leaders, medical administrators, policymakers, and nursing organisations to ensure the highest level of care for individuals and families alike. Registered nurses, nurse leaders, nurse practitioners, nurse educators, and other healthcare providers must address each patient's desire to be heard and understood.  

 What is advocacy in nursing in the UK? 

Whether a professional nurse advocate works in a hospital, an outpatient clinic, or another sort of institution, all nurses are responsible for ensuring that patients receive high-quality care. Professional nurse advocates work to ensure that services, rules, and laws are focused on addressing the needs of patients while keeping them safe. 

What are the duties of a professional nurse advocate in the UK? 

A professional nurse advocate frequently performs the following duties and responsibilities

1. Informing individuals about the nature of their diagnosis and available treatment options. 

2. Refer patients to specialists or community resources based on the situation. 

3. Listen to and review people's concerns or grievances, and work with doctors to ensure that individuals are receiving the best care possible. 

4. Act as a liaison between individuals, families, doctors, healthcare organisations, and insurance companies. 

5. Advocate for tests and treatments that are appropriate for individuals' diagnoses. 

6. Educate the patient's families about insurance benefits. 

7. Assess the needs of individuals and their families and create a plan to meet those needs. 

How does a professional nurse advocate for patients? 

A professional nurse advocate function as patient advocates in a variety of ways by utilising their clinical expertise, communication skills, and ethical values. Here are some of the key ways in which a professional nurse advocate provides support for individuals: 

1. Communicating and educating: 

A professional nurse advocate is essential in describing medical procedures, treatment alternatives, and hazards to patients and their families in a language that they understand. They ensure that people are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their age, gender, colour, religion, sexual orientation, or other personal qualities. Nurses also advise patients about their rights, such as the ability to refuse treatment or seek a second opinion and assist patients in making informed decisions regarding their care. 

2. Protecting patient rights: 

A professional nurse advocate ensures that patients' rights, such as the right to privacy, confidentiality, and informed consent, are respected and are not violated. They ensure that people are treated with dignity, respect, and non-discrimination, regardless of their age, gender, colour, religion, sexual orientation, or other personal traits. Also, a professional nurse advocate safeguards a person's confidentiality and privacy by adhering to regulations and maintaining strict confidentiality of patient information. 

3. Collaborating with the healthcare team: 

A professional nurse advocate collaborates with all interdisciplinary healthcare teams to ensure that people's care needs are met. They communicate and coordinate with physicians, chemists, social workers, case managers, and other members of the healthcare team to establish and implement patient-centered care plans. Also, a professional nurse advocate listens to people's concerns and passes the information on to other healthcare teams during interdisciplinary meetings and care conferences. 

4. Monitoring patient safety: 

A professional nurse advocate should be diligent in monitoring and assessing patients for any signs of problems, adverse reactions, or medical errors. They advocate for people's safety by ensuring they receive the right medications at the right time, at the right dose, and through the right route. Moreover, they also identify and report any potential safety concerns or lapses in care and take appropriate action to prevent harm to individuals. 

5. Promoting cultural competence: 

A professional nurse advocate interacts with patients from diverse cultural backgrounds by respecting their cultural beliefs, values, and practices. They try to provide culturally competent care that is sensitive to the cultural diversity, beliefs, and traditions of their patients. A professional nurse advocate acts as a cultural broker, facilitating communication and understanding between patients from different cultural backgrounds and the healthcare team. 

6. Empowering person: 

A professional nurse advocate enables persons to be active participants in their care by involving them in decision-making, goal-setting, and care planning. They encourage patients to express their concerns, interests, and opinions and assist them in making educated health decisions. Nurses also teach patients about self-care, preventive measures, and lifestyle changes to improve their health and well-being. 

These are some of the ways in which a professional nurse advocates for patients.  A professional nurse advocate in the UK is classified as Band 5 or higher depending on qualification and experience. 

Nurses Group is the leading nursing agency in the UK, especially in the southwest region of England. We provide qualified and skilled nursing staff to healthcare facilities. Our agency team appreciates the importance of advocating for the rights of those who require care and consequently develops such a culture inside the facility where they work. 

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