I read with interest the last issue of Independent Nurse. I find some of the GP's attitudes towards nurses breath taking. For example,laughing when a nurse asked about the support for prescribing. A story in the same issue tells us about the RCGP predicting that 34 million patients may be unable to get a GP appointment because of a slump in practice funding (p3).
My own experiences are as follows. I am employed as an advanced nurse practitioner. I was a replacement for two retiring GPs. I see a patient every 10 minutes throughout the day. I have a duty doctor that I can consult if there is a problem that I can't handle or if I have concerns. I do family planning smears and home visits when asked to help out. I do two days until 6pm and 6.30pm. I work five days a week. I travel 45 miles each way every day. I love my job. I have had very positive appraisals and have been told that I am a valuable staff member.
I was offered the job three years ago and my final words before accepting were to ask about my terms and conditions. I was told 'we are on Agenda for Change so they will remain the same as you are now on'. I had previously worked for a PCT (and a community trust before that).
Now, 22 years later, I have been told the practice is struggling and they need to cut back, so it has come out of Agenda for Change.
Sick pay has been cut to six weeks with nothing for the first two days and, more importantly, my increments (important for my pension) have been stopped. I was devastated and the whole business has left a nasty taste in my mouth. I would never have taken the job had I thought this might happen.
I believe I am excellent value for money. I feel bitter about the way I have been treated. In effect, the practice is managing the shortfall with a chunk of my pension.
I think nurses work very hard and I believe that general practice would not survive without them. We help the GPs. Perhaps the RCGP should sit up and look at other ways of addressing the lack of appointments in the GP workforce?
Nurses are highly skilled so why are they still treated so badly? We have only ever wanted to be considered as equals.
I know that there are many good GP employers but I hear so much that is bad. My retirement is two and a half years away. I look forward to that day more and more.
A Disillusioned ANP.
District nurses already supporting GP care
With regards to the suggestion that district nurses (DNs) could take lead roles in care of the elderly in the community, I believe we already play a considerable role.
The GPs delegate a large percentage of their work to us and we hear increasingly that patients have difficulty in getting a GP to visit them at home. If DNs are expected to take on more patient care then, unless they have the staff resources, there is a risk that more will leave the profession.
Yes, as Crystal Oldman said, it is a fantastic recognition of the importance of our role. Let's have more of us then!
Sue Duma, District Nurse