We need to encourage nurses into general practice
Letter from Heather Henry, co-chair New NHS Alliance
Around 25 years ago nurse leaders warned about the demographic time bomb in practice nursing. These messages were not heeded and the problem is now fully impacting on general practice at a time of unprecedented demand - one in eight practice nurse positions are vacant Pulse has reported.
New NHS Alliance is a solution-focused organisation and we see primary care nursing as an exciting and fulfilling role. Our General Practice Nurse Forum was established to raise the profile of this branch of nursing. In addition to a lack of planning, the more insidious problem stem from the myths that affect a nurse’s choice of career. We are acting to explode these myths: part timers marking time until retirement, needing five years of experience, or being task-focused handmaidens. This is just nonsense.
We also need to challenge universities and trusts who point newly registered nurses towards secondary care in order to gain necessary experience before a career in primary care. We want to reverse this logic. The community is where people live their lives. The more nurses understand this, the better nurses they will become. We aim to challenge a wholly medical model because general practice is about family and community. These are the things that keep people well.
We need to embrace students and newly qualified nurses so they positively choose practice nursing. We have many who have joined our GPN network to find a way to get a job in primary care. They find it really tricky and this is a real missed opportunity. So we say to CCGs, LMCs, GPs and practice managers: ‘Please encourage and welcome student and newly qualified nurses. Shout for funding from Health Education England and set up practice training hubs within your federation or provider structure. This isn’t peripheral now, it is core to your survival.’
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