It's no wonder few trainee or graduate nurses consider a career in general practice, when the important work they do is overlooked by those who should know better. PHE released a press release yesterday on the numbers of people being seen in practice with flu in which Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer, kindly expressed her gratitude to GPs for vaccinating the public. No mention of practice nurses who manage immunisations and the annual flu vaccination programme. Thanks Dame Sally.
When glaring ommissions like this are made by the government's principal medical advisor, it reinforces the view of nursing as being hospital based and does little to advance the role of primary care nurses, despite the future of the NHS being largely reliant on them.
Following the PHE press release there was a minor twitter storm in defence of practice nursing. PHE said they were very grateful for the work of practice nurses in advancing their flu campaigns. Meanwhile practice nurses continued delivering the government's public health agenda as they consulted with patients up and down the land. Not one of them is holding their breath in anticipation of the long-awaited practice nursing vision. The three strategic practice nurses recently appointed to government positions must have been cringing.
There is a ground swell of good work going on out there, the RCN and RCGP work towards a practice nursing career framework, the louder primary care nursing voice and the realisation in NHS England's Five Year Vision that primary care nurses are likely to be the saviours of primary care. But a single thoughtless comment conveys scale of the task still in hand.