On 18 January, the report of the QNI’s survey on general practice nursing was launched. We were delighted that more than 3400 nurses working in general practices completed the survey. To get such a huge response from nurses who can be quite hard to access sends a very clear message: nurses in general practice have a story to tell and the QNI were trusted with the data they so generously provided.
For general practice nurses, there will be few surprises. For example, more than one third of nurses working in general practice are due to retire by 2020 and there are insufficient places for student nurses to gain insight and to learn about the role of general practice and a career in primary care.
Pay and conditions for a nurse in primary care varies enormously, partly because the role is not generic and a variety of levels of skill and experience are required – but also because general practice providers have never been required to comply with the NHS pay scales of Agenda for Change. This has led to a situation where the salary is inconsistent with the required levels of skill and competence for any one role across the sector – and in many cases does not reflect the significant expertise of the practitioners and the value they bring to the registered population of the practice.
Now we have the data, I believe that an increased recognition of the value of the nurse in primary care is going to feature heavily in 2016. And not before time as I understand that the Care Quality Commission are beginning to see a pattern emerge in primary care, where the presence of nurses in the practice is linked with better outcomes of the assessment.
This will, as with the results of the QNI report, come as no surprise to those of you working in primary care. But now we have the evidence. More than 3400 nurses have spoken and in 2016, I believe your voice will be heard. We have named the report General Practice Nursing in the 21st Century: A time of opportunity because we believe that there are fantastic opportunities for the nursing contribution in primary care to be recognised, celebrated, developed and supported – to the measurable benefit of the populations they serve.
Crystal Oldman, chief executive, Queen’s Nursing Institute