Suffolk GP Federation has developed a new leadership programme for primary care nurses to help solve a growing workforce crisis in GP practices throughout the county.
The move has come in response to Ipswich and East Suffolk NHS CCG’s warning that, without efforts to increase recruitment and retention in primary care, by 2020 practices will not have enough doctors or nurses to cope with demand.
A third of practice nurses in Suffolk and north east Essex are over 54, and retiring in the next five to 10 years.
The CCG’s primary care strategy also wants to explore ‘innovative ways of working within new workforce models, with a reduced reliance on GPs’.
Dr Paul Driscoll, chair and medical director of Suffolk GP Federation, claims the leadership programme for practice nurses will help many ‘recognise their full potential through relevant training and development.’
He said: ‘The increasing pressure on primary care and the problems that have been experienced with recruiting GPs are well documented. However, what’s less well known is that there’s just as much of an issue with recruiting nurses. It’s a growing problem and one that we felt had to be addressed.
‘Nurses and nurse practitioners are the cornerstone of modern general practice, running most of the chronic disease management, minor illness and health promotion clinics’.
He added that encouraging as many practice nurses as possible to stay within the profession would reduce pressure in other areas and ease the workload on GPs.
Amanda Lyes, chief corporate services officer at Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk CCGs, said: ‘The introduction of this programme is positive step forward that we hope will help address recruitment issues and give a boost to nursing within GP practices.’
With many student nurses spending most of their placements in hospital settings, the Federation has also been working alongside the University of Suffolk to open up opportunities in primary care for those who would like to work in general practice.