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GPN Manifesto 2024: Address mental health

GPN Manifesto 2024: Address mental health

This is the eighth of 10 points of priorities for general practice nursing for this year, launched to form a manifesto for the profession. The points are being published one by one, and each is supported by a nurse working in or closely related to general practice.

Workforce shortages, soaring patient demand, and pay and conditions that fall far short of those on offer to nurses working in secondary care are just some of the ongoing issues faced by general practice nurses (GPNs). Nurses share the actions they believe could be taken by practices, PCNs, the wider NHS, the government – and GPNs themselves.

How useful are you finding the manifesto? We know that this is only the start of the conversation about challenges in general practice – please join in and share your views if you can. We will also return to these important topics often during 2024.

Here is the eighth of the manifesto points, each supported by a nurse working in or closely related to general practice:

#8 Address mental health

This manifesto point was championed by Georgina Callard

‘It is important for general practice nurses to consider parity of esteem – valuing the patients’ mental health needs equally to their physical health.’

A mental health nurse for 20 years, Georgina Callard had always worked in secondary care. But since 2018, Ms Callard, a Queen’s Nurse and a professional nurse advocate, has been based in general practice in Northamptonshire.


She sees adults experiencing the full range of mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, psychosis and mania, and suicidal ideation. GPNs refer patients to Ms Callard and signpost their concerns to her. Equally, she refers patients to GPNs at the practice to look at physical health needs such as asthma reviews.


Ms Callard has provided refresher training to GPNs at the practice on mental health issues, and nurses can seek her advice about their patients’ mental health.


Her role helps to ensure patients receive an early diagnosis. Feedback from the local mental health team is that referrals to secondary care have reduced since she joined the practice.


Feedback from GPNs and patients at the practice has also been positive, she says. ‘Patients appreciate there is someone there for their mental health issues, and nurses appreciate they have a practitioner they can refer patients to relatively quickly.’


She says it’s equally important for GPNs to consider patients’ mental health as their physical health. ‘Our mental health and physical health go hand in hand. For example, when people are anxious it can impact on their physical health.’


She acknowledges that ‘time, workload pressures and confidence’ can be barriers to considering patients’ mental health needs. But she says it’s important for GPNs to have the knowledge and understanding to signpost patients experiencing mental health issues to the right support, and that basic mental health training can help.


‘And it’s also about GPNs feeling confident to ask patients, “Are you OK?” “What can I do to help?”.’



Georgina Callard

Do you have any points for discussion on this topic? Please visit Nursing in Practice on Facebook or X to start the discussion. Please do also get in touch with us at Nursing in Practice if you have relevant projects or ideas for articles to share on this subject. We welcome your thoughts.  

The 10 points of the manifesto


Look out for discussion on the points at and on social media as these points are launched one by one over the next few weeks



The government should ensure general practice nurses have the same pay, terms and conditions as their secondary care colleagues.



The NHS, practices, universities and other stakeholders need to change the narrative, to encourage more nurses to choose general practice.



Practices, PCNs, the NHS and government should do more to promote the health of our less well-off families.



Practices and PCNs need to free up time for GPNs to empower patients to manage their long-term conditions, including diabetes, asthma and COPD.



NHS England, PCNs, and GP practices should ensure GPNs have the time and resources to carry out their crucial role in public health promotion and disease prevention.



GPN employers, PCNs and nursing bodies need to support nurses with their health and care, so they can care for others.



All nurses should be given the time for professional development to progress their careers. NHS England, PCNs and practices should encourage and support the GPN and ANP roles to grow in general practice.



It is important for general practice nurses to consider parity of esteem – valuing the patients’ mental health needs equally to their physical health.



GPNs need to play an important role in overturning the decline in childhood immunisation uptake.



General practice needs to continue to evolve to serve patients better, adopting approved digital platforms and applications to improve patient care and outcomes.


Writer: Kathy Oxtoby

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