Expanding recruitment and improving professional development were key recommendations in a practice nursing position statement presented to the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Council.
The statement was created by a number of nursing figures to highlight the key issues in practice nursing and to persuade the RCGP Council to action them. The topics the recommendations were centred around were recruitment, resourcing, retention, revalidation and returners.
Kamila Hawthorne, the vice chair for professional development for the RCGP Council, said that the case had been made that urgent action was needed for two reasons. ‘We know that many experienced nurses are going to retire in the next five years and we have a real lack of practice nurses. The second is that there isn’t a proper UK- wide regulated and standardised training for the workforce and that needs sorting. We cannot manage without practice nurses’, unique contribution to primary care.’
The recommendations included providing funded student placements in GP practices, workforce planning, collection of data about practice nurse numbers, more CPD and career development and support during revalidation and for returners.
Jenny Aston, the chair of the RCGP’s practice nursing group and contributor to the statement said: ‘It’s about getting the government to recognise that primary care is not just about GPs and about identifying the money. In my view it’s asking for nothing less than a level playing field.’
The position statement was also endorsed by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
They were based on findings from the Roland Commission. The Roland Commission was an independent inquiry into the primary care workforce led, by Professor Martin Roland and commissioned by HEE.
The Commission identified that community nursing needed an investment of £709million to meet future demand.
However, Ms Aston said that there needed to be more clarity on exactly how this money needed to be spent. ‘What we’ve tried to do in our position statement is be clear about what that should be spent on,’ she said.
Ms Hawthorne said that the paper was well received by the RCGP council with no major barriers identified at this point to moving it forward. One of the main things considered was whether there would be enough funding to carry the recommendations out.