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GPNs ‘not often given credit when due’, says practice manager

GPNs ‘not often given credit when due’, says practice manager

General practice nurses (GPNs) ‘aren’t often’ given the credit they are due and ‘a lot of misunderstanding’ around the role still exists, a national lead for the Institute of General Practice Management has said.

Ceri Gardener, who is a practice manager in Gloucestershire, also reiterated concerns that practices were not given ‘anywhere near’ the required funding to provide a 6% pay rise for GPNs in England.

Speaking during a Royal College of Nursing (RCN) GPN Forum meeting in January, Ms Gardener discussed the ‘massive changes’ seen in general practice nursing over the past 20 years – moving from a ‘reactive care’ approach to a ‘proactive, health promotional care’ one.

‘The biggest change really is that you’re becoming more specialised nurses,’ she said.

‘A lot of our practice nurses now are prescribing nurses [and] working proactively with chronic disease management – this is a huge step forward from where we were 15/20 years ago.’

However, Ms Gardener recognised ‘there’s still a lot of misunderstanding out there about what practice nursing actually involves, and a lot of misunderstanding that GPs do everything’.

She added: ‘I certainly feel that practice nurses aren’t often given the credit that they are due.’

For example, there were instances at a national level, she said, of ‘misconceptions’ that GPs were doing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) reviews.

‘And that’s really not the case. You know that. That’s your job. That’s your area of specialism. That’s what you do really, really well. And as a practice manager, I will always give you that credit,’ Ms Gardener told the webinar of nurses.

GPNs should think of practice managers as ‘your defenders, your protectors and your supporters’, she said.

‘I know that not all practice managers will think the same way as I do. But I defend my team, I protect my team and I support my nursing team.’

She added: ‘Most practice managers are your biggest supporters, you may not always hear it, but I would just like you to know that we really have got your backs, and we fight your corner.’

Ms Gardener also referred to the struggles faced by many practices who she said were ‘just about breaking even’ and were ‘trying to stay afloat’.

Referring to the 6% pay increase mooted for GPNs in England – of which more than three-quarters did not receive – Ms Gardener said practices had not received ‘anywhere near’ the funds needed to pay their staff the uplift. This was ‘putting added pressure onto practices’, she noted.

‘If I go back to when I started in general practice, yes, they were profitable businesses, especially dispensing practices where there is money to be made, if you like,’ said Ms Gardener, who is the IGPM national lead for the Midlands.

‘But nowadays practices are just about breaking even.

‘If we were retail, then we’d be looking at shops closing. But we’re all healthcare professionals and we can’t just close.’

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