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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Nurses new to practice should get full support

Your A Problem Shared feature was headlined 'We've been told our newly appointed nurse is incompetent' (October 14).

The nurse may indeed be incompetent on a surgical ward ­ surely a good reason to leave? She may be stressed ­ an obvious conclusion if she feels inadequate in her previous employment.

This does not necessarily mean she would not make a good practice nurse.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council recommends that any nurse new in a post should be allocated a mentor for a period of six months. During this time the nurse is able to access help, support and training from her colleagues.

This would supplement a package of training arranged with the nurse in a basic personal and professional development plan. For a nurse new to general practice this procedure is paramount.

In the West Midlands we have a folder that gives guidelines on competencies, basic job descriptions, contracts and professional development plans, along with statutory requirements for the taking of smears, mentorship and triage.

Some areas also recommend that a practice nurse facilitator, contacted via the PCT, be present during interviews for new nurses. A three-month probationary period should be cited in the contract.

Mary H. Akufo-Tetteh

Advanced nurse practitioner in general practice

Practice nurse mentor

Practice nurse development facilitator

Dudley PCTs

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