General practice nurses (GPNs) can expect a £15 million investment from NHS England in an effort to bolster the dwindling workforce.
A 10-point action plan will target areas most in need of improvement with the hope of attracting new recruits, supporting existing GPNs and encouraging former GPNs to return to practice.
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By setting out key milestones, NHS England hopes progress can be measured across general practice nursing for the first time, as an ageing and growing population puts more strain and the GPN workforce.
Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England, launched the programme on 27 July. ‘Nurses working in general practice may not have always received the recognition they deserve in the past but they are central to our plan to improve care for patients and ensure the NHS is fit for the future,’ she said.
‘That is why I am determined to ensure that there is a proper career development programme for those who choose this vital path and make it an attractive first choice for newly-qualified nurses as well as helping experienced staff take advantage of the flexibility it offers to re-enter the workforce.’
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The action plan sets out the work needed to deliver more convenient access to care, more personalised care in the community and a stronger focus on prevention and population health driving better outcomes and experience for patients.
An ‘Image of Nursing’ programme will seek to raise the profile of general practice by offering clinical placements for undergraduates and generating additional routes into the discipline.
In the plan, all nurses new to general practice will have access to an induction programme, training and mentoring and an expansion in leadership and career opportunities. The already-running national return to practice programme will now include GPNs.
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Wendy Preston, head of nursing practice for the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘It’s time to raise the profile of primary care. This framework for action recognises the tremendous contribution and challenges faced by general practice nurses and their teams, and highlights their pivotal role in delivering care closer to home.
‘With large numbers of the workforce set to retire in the next few years, we must not delay making general practice an attractive career for nurses. General practice nurses are well placed and indeed deliver high quality services, meeting the needs of their practice populations every day. We need to prioritise general practice and make it the place to be.’