Investment in training for practice and community nurses and healthcare assistants is needed for practice teams to realise their ‘full potential’, a new report by the BMA said.
General practice needs to be ‘properly resourced’ and ‘placed at the heart of the community’ in order to meet patient demand and overturn a decade of underinvestment, stated Responsible, safe and sustainable: Towards a new future for general practice.
The report was based on the largest consultation undertaken by the BMA of GPs and on feedback from patients. Respondents stated that being a partner in a practice ‘should not be confined to doctors. Instead, others working in the practice such as the practice manager or nurse could become partners.’
Louise Brady, the co-chair of the General Practice Nurse Network at the NHS Alliance, said this was ‘a welcome acknowledgment of the important role of nursing to sustain and support general practice. We await our new practice nurse competency framework this autumn, which will create a common language and a new set of standards to work to. This is a very positive development. However, with no mandatory basis for a minimum skill set of competencies it remains a challenge for every nurse who will still need to negotiate training needs at an individual and practice level.
‘I would like to see further negotiation with the BMA and RCGP to develop a mandatory minimum skill set which would drive up quality of care for patients, and offer some assurance that we can indeed improve care outcomes, quality and patient experience.’
The report also considered the possibility that GPs could be employed on a consultant-type contract in community trusts, GP-led networks or multispecialty community providers (MCPs). This would then mean that wider teams around the practice would provide some of the services that are expected of the practice.
Larger practices provide better opportunity to employ a greater range of staff, said the report, such as practice nurses and healthcare assistants. There should also be directly commissioned community teams including district nurses, community matrons, health visitors, midwives and social workers to work with the practice.
The report referenced NHS England’s Five Year Forward View, in particular the new models of care which could enhance general practice.
Expanding multidisciplinary teams – including community nurses – which collaborate better with the rest of the NHS was also recommended.