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Seeing nurses lead the way in primary care

Nurses have the right skills and knowledge to lead the way as primary care services evolve

The QNI’s vision for health is that all people are provided with the best possible nursing care by the right nurse with the right skills in homes and communities, whenever and wherever it is needed.

This ethos informs the QNI’s Strategic Plan 2017-2020 which advocates nurses playing an active role in policy influence and development.

The QNI approaches the achievement of this goal in a number of ways, such as contributing to national and regional NHS advisory boards, responding to national consultations and offering shadowing opportunities to senior policy advisors, who spend a day with a Queen’s Nurse, observing excellence in practice.

In the last week, Queen’s Nurses have also been helping to shape General Practice Nurse Fellowships, which were mentioned in the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) for England:

There is no indication in the LTP of the form of the GPN Fellowships might take. However, work is now underway to support the operational framework and to clarify how the GPN Fellowship will articulate with the existing national career framework published by Health Education England in October 2015.

The intention of the GPN Fellowships is clear – to contribute to the increase in registered nurses choosing a career in general practice and staying to develop an exciting, rewarding and fulfilling career in primary care.

As part of the consultation process, last week five Queen’s Nurses with extensive experience in the field of General Practice Nursing, commissioning, and education, met with Dr John Withington, the NHSE National Medical Director’s Clinical Fellow, who is leading on the work to develop both GP and GPN Fellowships in order to share their views, ideas and innovations around the GPN Fellowships.

It was a joy to see Queen’s Nurses in action; they were clearly able to articulate a variety of options around how the GPN Fellowships might add value to the health of the registered population of their GP practice, as well as supporting the development of general practice nursing as an attractive career option.

Some of the longstanding issues with general practice nursing were discussed: the employment model, the current variability of the training and education available to GPNs and the significant variation in accessing such education and training even where it is available locally. It was agreed that the establishment of the Primary Care Networks (PCNs) will provide an opportunity for some levelling up of professional development for GPNs and this is an exciting time for GPNs.

Indeed, the discussion turned to GPNs as having huge potential to be clinical directors of PCNs. I look forward to seeing a number of GPNs taking on these positions and, in due course, seeing a Queen’s Nurse as a PCN clinical director. Nurses need to be at the forefront of decision-making, as well as care.

Crystal Oldman, chief executive, QNI