Darzi centres to trigger major practice nurse shortages
By Steve Nowottny
The national rollout of GP-led health centres is set to swallow up large numbers of practice nurses and trigger staffing shortages across primary care, senior NHS managers have admitted.
GPs have been warned that practices could struggle to keep hold of their practice nurses and might have to offer them substantial pay rises, in the face of what one SHA described as a ‘challenging' recruitment environment.
A report from NHS West Midlands said the new centres, some of which are employing more than three nurses to every GP, would intensify competition for well-trained nurses and might have an impact on staffing at existing surgeries.
‘Current expectations are there are sufficient numbers of GPs in the system to meet anticipated need but that recruiting sufficient numbers of appropriately qualified and experienced practice nurses may be more challenging,' it said.
Managers would have to work with preferred bidders to identify ‘the best methods for bridging any gaps', but must also be aware of the ‘the wider context of workforce issues across all of primary care', it added.
The warning follows the news last month that the country's first GP-led health centre has already hired two practice nurses from a nearby surgery after offering them a significant pay rise.
The report - an update on the new wave of GP-led health centres and new APMS practices for underdoctored areas presented to the NHS West Midlands board - warned the nursing shortage was a ‘potential risk to successful mobilisation'.
Dr Grant Ingrams, secretary of GPC West Midlands, said: ‘The fact these centres will end up poaching from local practices was obvious from day one. You can't suddenly get skilled nurses from nowhere. I suspect the same will happen with reception staff and perhaps even managers.'
The Royal College of Nursing warned the GP-led health centre recruitment drive came against a backdrop of existing shortages in an ageing workforce.
Karen Didovich, the RCN's senior employment relations adviser, said: ‘The labour market is going to become tighter. GPs will need to think about the rewards they provide.'
RCGP chair Professor Steve Field said he had recently held the first in a series of workforce planning meetings with the Department of Health and other stakeholders.
‘There aren't the right number of nurses looking for jobs and those that are haven't got the appropriate knowledge and skills to work in general practice,' he said.Practice nursing shortage
A Pulse investigation found the new GP-led health centres will be dominated by nurses and salaried GPs, with some having more than three nurses for every GP
The country's first GP-led health centre has already recruited two practice nurses from a nearby surgery. Two nurses from the Avicenna Medical Practice in Bradford moved to the Hillside Bridge Healthcare Centre after being offered a significant pay rise
NHS West Midlands is now warning that recruiting enough nurses to staff the centres will be ‘challenging', and is to work with successful bidders to develop ways of ‘bridging any gaps'Practice nurses: Darzi centres look set to cause workforce chaos Practice nurses: Darzi centres look set to cause workforce chaos