This is the seventh of 10 points of priorities for general practice nursing for this year, launched to form a manifesto for the profession. Look out for each of the points as they are published one by one, each 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 seventh of the manifesto points:
#7 Focus on professional development
This manifesto point was championed by Jenny Bostock
‘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.’
Historically, general practice nurses have had little or no opportunities for career progression. But all that is changing. ‘Now there are career pathways for GPNs where they can increase their knowledge, skills and training,’ says Jenny Bostock, a clinical director at Ramsgate PCN, an ANP at Dashwood Medical Centre in the town and a Queen’s Nurse.
She says many practice nurses ‘want to develop their role and to become, for example, ANPs, or nurses specialising in a particular chronic disease’.
But she says those who choose a career in practice nursing can feel isolated. Particularly for those new to the profession, a lack of support can be ‘a big issue’.
‘It’s important they feel supported, and that if they have any issues, they are able to talk things through,’ Ms Bostock says.
ANPs do ‘complex work and may need support from a senior clinician if, for example, a patient presents with a condition that is not textbook clear’, she says. Without such support, ‘ANPs can’t increase their scope of practice’.
The business needs of practices can prevent GPNs carving a career pathway of their choice, Ms Bostock says. For example, if a practice has two nurses in respiratory care, a third may not be required. To help address this, she says, ‘practices within PCNs need to work together to share staff resources’. This would allow nurses to develop their skills across practices, rather than be restricted by the needs of a single surgery.
‘General practice is great for career development,’ she says. ‘But nurses need support and time for training, and those who enter general practice should be encouraged to put themselves forward for leadership positions to help to shape and develop general practice nursing.’
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The 10 points of the manifesto
Look out for discussion on the points at nursinginpractice.com 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