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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

How to... Recruit a practice nurse

Most practices experience very low nursing staff turnover. This implies that practice nursing is an attractive proposition. Yet there is a problem – a lack of nurses coming into the system. So how can practices improve their recruitment prospects to attract younger, career-orientated nurses?

1 Sell the benefits. Practices are able to offer sociable hours. There is potential to adapt the nursing role to suit school hours. Also, although the majority of nurses are still part time, many practices are now able to offer full-time posts.

2 Dispel the myths. It is widely believed by hospital nurses that specialist training is needed to enter practice nursing. Not so. Instead, tried and tested skills such as consultation, protocol-based working, the ability to deal with crises and assess the urgency of some conditions, basic dressings and treatment follow-up skills are what is required.

3 Emphasise the support and training structure. There is widespread belief among hospital nurses that their counterparts in general practice are less supported in terms of training, development and clinical practice. This is not the case. For example, there are specific courses available relating to management of conditions in primary care.

4 Be clear about remuneration and benefits. Many hospital nurses still believe practices are unable to offer superannuation and that salaries are not comparable to hospital posts. Stress that this is wrong.

5 Plan strategically. Identify workload fluctuations, demographic changes of the population and assess the impact on future workload. The outcome should inform the needs for new skills, training, nurse career paths and team management.

6 Use the grapevine. Distribute fliers around the local hospital. Take any opportunity to invite nurses for a practice tour and talk to them about nursing in primary care. Start to break down the barriers between primary and secondary care.

7 Offer attractive working conditions. This is the golden rule of attracting any employee. The better your working conditions, the easier you will find it to recruit the nurse of your choice

Of course, finding good nurses is only half the battle. Now you have got to keep them. Further advice follows in due course.

Deb Farnworth-Wood is managing partner of the New East Quay Medical Centre, Bridgwater, Somerset

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