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Action plan to revive general practice nursing

More nurses needed to deal with complexities of ageing population

Mark Gould

Friday, 28 July 2017

NHS England has announced a 10-point action plan to enhance and develop general practice nursing with a stronger focus on personalised care in the community, health promotion and population health.

The plan, launched by Professor Jane Cummings, the chief nursing officer for England, aims to address the acute pressures on general practice by attracting new recruits, supporting existing general practice nurses (GPNs) and encouraging ex-nurses to return to practice.

It is backed by a £15 million investment to help target and prioritise where improvements are needed most. It sets out key milestones which will allow progress to be measured across general practice nursing for the first time.

Measures include:

  • Increase uptake and promote nursing in general practice – by raising the profile of nursing in general practice through the "Image of Nursing" programme, offering clinical placements for undergraduates and supporting additional routes into general practice nursing.
  • Support for existing GPNs – all nurses new to general practice will have access to an induction programme, training and mentoring and an expansion in leadership and career opportunities.
  • Encouraging GPNs to return to practice – the national return to practice programme will now include GPNs. Regional GPN Boards will provide a platform to share best practice.

Professor Cummings, said: “As the NHS transforms the way that we deliver care, treating more patients in the community, the importance of our general practice workforce will only increase.

“Nurses working in general practice may not have always received the recognition they deserve in the past but they are central to our plan to improve care for patients and ensure the NHS is fit for the future.

“That is why I am determined to ensure that there is a proper career development programme for those who choose this vital path and make it an attractive first choice for newly-qualified nurses as well as helping experienced staff take advantage of the flexibility it offers to re-enter the workforce.”

Wendy Preston, the head of nursing practice at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “It’s time to raise the profile of primary care. This framework for action recognises the tremendous contribution and challenges faced by general practice nurses and their teams, and highlights their pivotal role in delivering care closer to home.

“With large numbers of the workforce set to retire in the next few years, we must not delay making general practice an attractive career for nurses.

“General practice nurses are well placed and indeed deliver high quality services, meeting the needs of their practice populations every day. We need to prioritise general practice and make it the ‘place to be’."

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Practice nurses are incredibly important members of the practice team, and highly valued by GPs and patients alike – but as patient demand has soared, numbers of practice nurses, like GPs, have not kept pace.

“The College has been calling for elements of this plan to be introduced for many years, so we’re really pleased to see wheels being put into motion. We now need all aspects of this plan to be implemented in full and as swiftly as possible – and we will play our part in ensuring it is a success.

“We look forward to welcoming, and welcoming back, as many practice nurses to the profession as possible.”

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