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GP practices need funding to expand nurse training places, says report

The funding of nurse training needs to be revised to encourage GP practices to take on more trainee nurses, recommends a new report.

The Royal College of Nursing-commissioned report concludes that nursing training should be improved and become an all-graduate profession.

It also says health care assistants should be better regulated as too much responsibility was being placed on unqualified members of staff.

Authored by Lord Phil Willis, the Liberal Democrat peer, the report concludes nurses should have more opportunity to train GP surgeries to ensure they have adequate experience.

The report says: ‘Service providers in and beyond the National Health Service (NHS) must be full partners in nursing education, and recognise that the culture of the workplace is a crucial determinant of its success and a learning environment for all staff.’

Lord Willis told Pulse there was ‘clear evidence that GPs were unhappy about taking on the mentoring role and the supporting role without any compensation at all’.

He said that this was an issue that needed to be ‘bottomed out’.

He said: ‘Our concern about GP surgeries was getting access to them for nurses training placements. This was partly because there was a disagreement for how the funding of such placements should be arranged.

‘As a commission, we felt there was a huge potential to use primary care as one of the key areas for developing the education of nurses, because they get such a wide variety of activity coming through general practice.’

The BMA has warned of a potential mass exodus of GP trainers if deaneries are not granted more funding towards training grants.

Dr Richard Vautrey, a GPC negotiator and a GP in Leeds, said the funding was currently not there to support any expansion in nursing training places in practices.

He said: ‘Practices would be prepared to take nurse trainees if there was funding to support this additional work but this has rarely if ever been available.

‘Training practices are already deeply concerned about the low levels of funding to support GP training and many are considering whether it is possible to continue doing that.

‘There needs to be greater investment in training across the board to ensure we have the best trained staff for the future.’

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, which commissioned the report, said: ‘Improvements will need to be made to the profession in the future, notably in the regulation of Healthcare Assistants and the need to make all student placements match the very best.

‘However the evidence in this report makes it very clear – the way to do this is to continue with nursing as an all-graduate profession.’