The Scottish Government has pledged to invest almost £7m into the primary care nursing workforce in order to boost the numbers of general practice and community nurses in the country.
In its National Health and Social Care Workforce plan, published today, the government confirmed the £3m investment into general practice nursing announced in December 2017’s Budget.
The £3m will be split over a three year period, and will go towards ‘additional training to enhance the skills of GPNs’. The money will also be used to train an additional 500 advanced nurse practitioners.
Funding will be allocated for return to practice programmes, with measures targeted towards areas where needs have been identified, including primary care and mental health.
The report also acknowledges the important part played by district and community nursing in delivering care, with pledges to not only boost numbers, but ‘refocus’ the district nurse role and make it a ‘national priority’.
The Scottish Government has made 95 training places available in 2017/18 to ‘train district nurses in nonmedical prescribing and advanced clinical assessment modules’ as part of a £3.9m package, invested over three years, to aid training and education of district nurses.
NHS Scotland has also indicated that more is needed to ‘celebrate the impact and opportunities of nursing and midwifery education and careers’ to aid recruitment. A campaign will begin later this year that will emphasise the flexibility of nursing, and ‘recognise career opportunities beyond the traditional boundaries of NHS Scotland’, with a focus on care home nursing.
RCN Scotland chief executive Theresa Fyffe welcomed the recognition received by primary care nurses in the report.
She said: ‘The commitment to investing £6.9 million over three years for the education and training of general practice nurses and district nurses is a move in the right direction. We will continue to work with the Scottish Government to support the development of plans for further investment to grow the community nursing workforce, and district nurses in particular, to meet the needs of patients and shift the balance of care from hospitals and into our communities.’
The funding follows a report in March 2018 that found the vacancy rate for primary care nurses in Scotland increased to 2.4% in the four-year period to 2017.