The general practice nursing (GPN) service is in the headlines in the nursing world – for all the right reasons.
For so long, the GPN service has been an area of practice which has been viewed as 'different' to the rest of the nursing profession. This may have been inevitable, given the focus on the development of our hospital-based services and the recent advances in medicine. These developments have created huge opportunities for innovative and life-saving treatments and interventions.
There is also the employment model which, for most nurses working in general practice, will sit outside the mainstream NHS terms and conditions for nursing.
However, the Five Year Forward View in England has provided the direction of travel for general practice nurses, with an emphasis on multispecialty community providers (MSCPs) centered on federations of general practices. Nurses working in primary care are now centre stage and will be instrumental in the delivery of the new service models described in the Five Year Forward View.
Being centre stage is excellent for the profession and demonstrates the critical role of nurses in the improvement of health in our communities.
Health Education England has been developing a career pathway for general practice nurses, which will be underpinned by an education service specification – an excellent step in articulating the complex work involved in this area of nursing and the career development opportunities needed to support knowledge and skills development.
There is also a need to understand the current issues and challenges for general practice nurses – and also what actions need to be taken to support them in their developing role. While a multitude of anecdotal evidence about general practice exists, it is recognised that gathering more robust evidence is essential in order to influence policy and practice in this area.
The QNI has created a comprehensive survey for all nurses working in general practice. It opened two weeks ago and we have been delighted with the response. More than 2000 nurses have completed the survey already, giving us comprehensive information about their own workplace experiences.
Please do spread the word and become a part of creating the evidence for change:
Crystal Oldman, chief executive, Queen's Nursing Institute