The modernisation of the NHS in the past 20 years has resulted in changes to the archaic way of thinking about the nursing profession. As a result of these changes, providers are required to offer services by the most appropriately trained staff and to meet the needs of patients in a negotiated process.
Prerequisite to good health outcomes for our patients is an experienced high calibre workforce who are able to provide high quality and consistent healthcare 24/7 all year round. With the increase in aging population and high proportion of patients living with chronic health conditions, this requires a workforce with advanced skills in order to meet the capacity, demand and complex and constantly changing needs of patients.
The role of Advanced Nurse Practitioner is invaluable. It provides opportunity for patients to receive timely care and negate unnecessarily delay in receiving treatment, especially with the growing shortage of GPs in primary care. ANPs in the community and primary care are able to develop close, long-term relationships with their patients and work in partnership with them to achieve optimum health. Advanced Nurse Practitioners are autonomous in making decisions based on assessment, diagnosis and interpretation of test results. ANPs are able to independently prescribe appropriate medication, evaluate or refer to other specialists if necessary.
While I acknowledge the fact that Health Education England has now developed a definition of Advanced Nurse Practice and the Royal College of Nursing has developed a credentialing system as steps to formal recognition of the individual nurse’s or midwife’s practice at ANP level, more needs to be done.
There are still some big issues in terms of lack of full recognition of the role, and lack of appropriate remuneration compared to similar jobs of equal value. There is also the need for registration of ANPs on the NMC professional register in order to give public assurance and safeguard patient safety. I call on the RCN and the Queen’s Nursing Institute to lobby the government for proper recognition of the role of the ANPs and demand for appropriate remuneration with similar weighting, to match similar jobs of equal value.
I am an advocate of the ANP role as I have worked and led on developing the role within the community, primary, urgent and emergency care for several years. I have been instrumental in shaping workforce transformation including teaching and mentoring nurses and allied healthcare professionals including pharmacists and physiotherapists. Coping with a complex and evolving environment like the NHS demands expertise in evidence-based practice, service transformation, and implementation of new strategies in managing patient care and healthcare workforce through traditional and non-traditional ways. We need to have practitioners with advanced nursing, leadership and management skills. Do not be afraid to stand up and be counted amongst them.