The chief nursing officer has urged general practice to open its doors to offer more practice nurse placements for undergraduates.
Jane Cummings told delegates at the NHS Expo in Manchester today that there are not enough opportunities for pre-registration nurses to try general practice and understand “what that looks like”.
Despite 33% of general practice nurses being due to retire by 2020, Cummings said only a quarter of practices offer placements to undergraduate nursing students, while 61% of them offer medical student placements.
“We talk a lot about wanting a workforce requirement that actually suits the new care models,” she said. “The new care models are about working differently and in many cases working out of hospital.
“So why don’t we actually have more people that are in community care and in primary care.”
Cummings urged officials to “really concentrate” on the £15 million investment earmarked for general practice nurse development can be used to “value the role nurses play in primary care”.
The investment was laid out in the GP Forward View which said the money would be used to “improve retention of the existing nursing workforce and support for return to work schemes for practice nurses” as well as increasing the number of pre-registration nurse placements.
Cummings also highlighted that nurses should be better valued throughout the NHS.
She said: “We know that nurses often get the blame for when things go wrong and it’s quite frankly very disappointing to find that if an organisation has a poor CQC review, it’s often the nurse leader that get’s blamed.
“For me that’s about making sure those nurse leaders are well supported, that they’re prepared for those roles but they are not always the scapegoat when something goes wrong.”
In her speech, Cummings also expressed caution over the nursing bursaries, saying the situation would need to be monitored closely.
She said the bursary removal has both risks and “potential benefits” if the government comes through on its promise that the program will see an additional 10,000 nursing students.
But she added: “If it means that in some parts of the country we can’t attract people because they don’t want to take the risk of a loan then I think that’s a real concern particularly in the environment we’re in at the moment.”