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The man in the GP Waiting Room

Ian Peate examines how nurses can capitalise on opportunities to influence behaviour

The general practice nurse (GPN) and other members of the general practice have a crucial role to play in promoting health and preventing disease. Every encounter and consultation with patients and their families provides an opportunity to detect early warning signs that could prevent illness and disease. Making Every Contact Count is an evidence-based approach that aims to improve peoples health and wellbeing by helping them change their behaviour.1Every 24 hours the NHS comes into contact with more than a million people at moments that may reinforce the personal impact of ill health.2

The highly-skilled general practice nursing workforce provides a high standard of care to local populations and their scope of practice continues to expand. GPNs offer a large amount of both first contact and continuing care for the population, managing long-term conditions such as chronic heart disease, diabetes and asthma, treating acute illness and supporting vulnerable groups, including children, the elderly and those who may have mental health problems, learning disabilities or dementia. The GPN takes every opportunity to keep people healthy, safe and when possible and appropriate out of hospital. They are advocates of health promotion and support patients in self-management. GPNs are proactive in carrying out public health activities and interventions. Indeed the Queens Nursing Institute (QNI) Standards of Education and Practice for Nurses New to General Practice, emphasise that in order to offer high quality patient care, the GPN is required to identify health promotion opportunities and to enable behaviour change with education and support, promoting shared decision so as to provide person-centred care.

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