The Autumn print edition of Nursing in Practice considers why the views of nurses in general practice are rarely sought when it comes to policy and plans to reform healthcare services. Nursing in Practice’s editor Carolyn Scott argues that managers and ministers will continue to ignore the views of GPNs at their peril
What’s it like working as a general practice nurse today? What differences do you notice in your role now compared with a few years ago? Some nurses in general practice are telling us that mounting pressure on the NHS and government policies to recruit a wider range of posts into practices are sapping their morale. So, are changes in local healthcare systems, such as ARRS, having unintended consequences? If you’re a nurse seeing growing workloads but not enough nurses in post, how do you manage that situation? How can your concerns be heard?
In our Autumn cover feature, we speak to the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) about worries that general practice nurses (GPNs) are being sidelined. Chief executive Dr Crystal Oldman tells us she feels GPNs are ‘ignored’ and that this problem is only getting worse. Nurses in general practice lack the wellbeing support on offer to those in trusts, she suggests, and workforce challenges in primary care show no sign of being resolved. Indeed, incoming ARRS staff like nurse associates can add to the work of GPNs, who often have to supervise them.
The problem seems to be that GPNs aren’t being heard as clearly as they should be. And with data showing the headcount of GPNs is stagnant, their voice won’t be amplified by numbers. Our article on recruitment into general practice finds practices are often more likely to fill scant space with an NHS England-funded ARRS pharmacist than to offer a training place to a student nurse.
And our deep dive into the provision of contraceptive services by nurses in general practice underlines these challenges. The shortage of GPNs and those trained to fit coils and implants is leaving women with lengthy waits to access the care and support they need.
Of course, this issue could not pass without addressing the case of Lucy Letby. Our editorial board lead Marilyn Eveleigh reflects on the shocking circumstances, fearing the full implications are yet to be known. What, she asks, has become of the whistleblowing processes supposedly embedded in healthcare after Mid Staffs and Shipman? And what are the local arrangements across primary care?
The message is that if things don’t seem right – in day-to-day clinical care or for more serious concerns – then nurses need to speak out.
And here at Nursing in Practice we can help you do just that. Do contact us if you have points to make about professional issues such as workload, recruitment or local changes that impact you. We’ll be interested in your view and in communicating it to our readers.
Together we can ensure the voice of nurses is heard in primary care.
Carolyn Scott is editor of Nursing in Practice. If you would like to share your experiences please contact her editor at [email protected]