We launch the second of 10 points of priorities for general practice nursing for this year, forming a manifesto for the profession. Look out for each of the points as they are published over the coming weeks.
We hear from many general practice nurses (GPNs) who aren’t happy with the direction of travel at their practices or the progress of the profession, so we asked 10 nurses to share their top priorities to create a manifesto for general practice nursing.
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 GPNs.
GPNs are making their own recommendations for tackling the difficulties in the sector. Here, within their contributions to the manifesto, nurses share the actions they believe could be taken by practices, PCNs, the wider NHS, the government – and GPNs themselves.
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.
The ten points of the manifesto ae being launched one by one, giving the opportunity for discussion on each point. We will also return to these important topics often during 2024.
Here is the second of the manifesto points, each supported by a nurse working in or closely related to general practice:
#2 Take action on workforce
This manifesto point was championed by Joanna Vintis
‘The NHS, practices, universities, and other stakeholders need to change the narrative, to encourage more nurses to choose general practice.’
Joanna Vintis, a general practice nurse for 13 years and lead nurse for Newcastle GP Services, a federation of GP practices in Newcastle, leads a pilot project to develop more student nurse placements within the city, encouraging more newly qualified nurses to consider primary care as a first-choice career destination.
As part of the project, Ms Vintis guides a cohort of nursing students through placements, and there are also opportunities for student-led clinics within practices.
The scheme is ‘changing how newly qualified nurses perceive general practice’, she says. ‘There’s a lack of exposure to general practice. I’m passionate about making sure students see the amazing career we have. It’s a joy seeing a cohort of students fall in love with practice nursing.
Ms Vintis also supports all those working in nursing teams in general practice in Newcastle, including with career development advice and mentoring. ‘A big problem for a lot of our new nurses was that access to training and support varied from practice to practice.’
To attract more nurses into general practice, and to retain them, ‘we need to raise the nursing voice, and make sure we’re part of the conversation’, she says.
‘I also speak at universities and go to career events to raise the profile of practice nursing.’
She wants universities to ensure general practice nursing is included in curricula, and for practices to be given more remuneration for hosting student nurses.
It’s important that people ‘understand what general practice nursing is about’, she says. ‘If GPNs felt valued and recognised we wouldn’t lose them.’
And GPNs need to ‘open their door to learners’. ‘If we can change the culture – even just allowing a student into a clinic for half a day to see what GPNs do – we’d see a huge difference in recruitment.’
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 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