It is an accepted fact that practice nurses have been neglected in terms of education and development over the past 20 years or so. These dedicated nurses have continued to serve their practices and patients despite being overworked and, in many cases, underpaid. Now that many of the nurses attracted into general practice nursing in the early 1990s are approaching retirement in the next five years, much time and column space has been given to the looming workforce crisis and loss of expertise from the profession.
It has been difficult to attract nurses into general practice.Practice and community nursing do not seem to be the nursing careers of choice. And is it any suprise, bearing in mind how few student nurses are able to experience worthwhile placements in either branch of nursing? Once in, there is no clear career pathway and little career progression.
The RCGP General Practice Foundation Nursing Group, led by Jenny Aston, has been doing sterling work to change this, to raise the profile of practice nursing, put in place competences, and draw up a plan of action. A roadmap, drawn up by the RCGP General Practice Foundation Nursing Group and the RCN, to improving entry into and expanding the general practice workforce, was given to every delegate attending the RCN's recent joint summit on the role of primary care nursing, held in March.
Now the Group is seeking input from practice nurses, advanced nurse practitioners and healthcare assistants. A survey has been launched, aimed at producing a detailed picture of, and establishing the facts about, the PN workforce to inform local workforce planners and commission training. I encourage you to answer the short survey (www.surveymonkey.com/s/gpnworkforce2014) so that an accurate picture of practice nursing can be drawn. Armed with this detail, the Group will be a stronger force, better able to shape the future of practice nursing.