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RCGP scheme could see 500 practice nurses in a year

A new return-to-nursing scheme should be implemented, which would mean at least 500 new practice nurses over the next year, the chair of the Royal College of GPs has urged.

Speaking at a conference in London, Maureen Baker called for: “A new return to nursing scheme to support those who've left the workforce to enter general practice, giving us a new cadre of at least 500 new practice nurses over the next year."

The RCGP have estimated the cost of the proposal, and believe it is financially realistic. The college want it to be part of the emergency support package for general practice, that health minister Jeremy Hunt said will be announced later this month.

Baker and the RCGP policy have discussed their suggestions with NHS England, including the scheme for nurses, a spokesperson told Nursing in Practice, however the College has not been told a date for the announcement. 

Baker also called for “resilience teams that can be parachuted into practices, from whom practices can request help to plug staff gaps that might otherwise tip them over the edge.” These teams would include nurses, along with GPs and practice managers, the RCGP spokesperson confirmed.

Other recommendations included basing mental health workers in general practices, for real-time referrals and support, grants to help practice upgrade their IT infrastructure, and more investment in the GP out-of-hours service.

“We need to see that cavalry coming over the hill, and we need to see it soon,” she added.