The NHS is failing to tap into practice nurses as a major resource in leadership and commissioning says a leading GP.
Sir Sam Everington, GP at NHS Tower Hamlets CCG and NHS Clinical Commissions Board Member, said that nurses were an untapped potential in the NHS and more needed to be made of the skills that they have.
Speaking at The King's Fund's 'The first 100 days: from promises to priorities' session, focusing on big election questions, Sir Sam spoke about the importance of primary care in the future of the NHS.
Sir Sam was particularly keen for more practice nurses to be involved in commissioning and with local education training boards (LETBs).
'We are currently failing to use the nursing resource in the community. There should be no barrier for nurses in the NHS. We need to use what we already have,' he said.
Howard Catton, head of policy at the RCN, agreed with Sir Sam's comments. 'I agree that nurses outside of hospitals are an untapped resource. Nurses such as specialist nurses, practice nurses and district nurses can provide so much if given the opportunity.Consultations by practice nurses have increased showing that they really are a valuable resource in the NHS.
'At the moment only 20% of nurses working in the NHS are based in the community and that really needs to change. We need to talk about the workforce across the system, not just in acute care,' he said.
The event discussed primary care as a whole as an area of the NHS that needs funding and support in order to remain sustainable and cost-effective. Sir Sam said that as a GP he can see up to 60 patients a day, and GPs are continuously being asked to do more. This was an unacceptable situation, he said.'This is the first time that primary care is being discussed in years and we have to keep that conversation going,' he said.