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Practice nurses an 'untapped resource'

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Practice nurses an 'untapped resource' Practice nurses an'untapped resource'

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.

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In spite of doing an autonomous job clinically, practice nurses are often excluded from invitations to attend training, meetings, and quite recently proactively prevented from any attempt to be involved at practice or CCG level. In fact our very own CCG lead wrote to local practices to support exclusion. His own practice is also a high turnover of nurse employment and poor retention. Sadly, practice manager and GP culture is too often a clique and seem to see nurses as either professionally subordinates or perhaps perceived competition for their world of influence.
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This is great news! Primary and community nurses are a very valuable resource but are not valued by employers and commissioners. There is an extremely poor understanding of the roles- especially practice nursing - by government, commissioners, providers and employers, which has been allowed to develop by excluding them fromNHS education, training and funding. This had lead to huge inequalities of care to patients. The HEE career framework for primary and community care will be the first step in supporting these nurses
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Practice Nurses have been undervalued for years. They, like many nurses, give a lot of their own personal time to ensure care is delivered with high standards constantly battling against Q.O.F. Targets. The necessity to acheive these targets can and does compromise nursing care. This group of nurses is so powerful if they worked together. GPs and managers realise this and make it almost impossible for them to attend Practice Nurse meetings. CCGs often don't have a suitably experienced PN lead and therefore the needs of these nurses is often unmet. I can go on and on. It is a job I have loved for 25 years but left as I feel compromised and unable to nurse to the 6 Cs
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