Nurses working in general practices in Wales must be better supported to access education and training, RCN Wales have said.
The call for more support for practice nurses is one of the major policies in RCN Wales’ 2016 manifesto, Time to Care 2016. The manifesto states that while GPs remain central to general practice, practice nurses are often the main point of contact with patients. However, practice nurses in Wales often have difficulty accessing continuing professional development, despite the need to ensure that the entire nursing workforce is educated and trained to provide the best possible care. RCN Wales are urging the Welsh Government to rectify this situation and make training more available to nurses working in general practice.
Tina Donnelly, director of RCN Wales, said: ‘We would urge all politicians in Wales irrespective of their party to read our document and take note of its content. By listening to the ideas of nurses and healthcare support workers we will be able to work together to improve the health of the people of Wales and safeguard healthcare services.’
The manifesto also highlights the role of advanced nurse practitioners in strengthening the primary care team. It states that nurses who are able to lead clinics, triage patients and prescribe independently have a considerable capacity to improve patient care. RCN Wales has urged the Welsh Government, as well as local health boards, to ensure that posts for advanced nurse practitioners are created across Wales to enhance primary care services.
Gaynor Jones, chair of the RCN Welsh Board, said: ‘Nurses are ready for the challenges that the next few years will bring, because they see it as an opportunity for more joint working and innovations in nursing to take shape. As nurses we have to ensure that our voice is strong and that the public are aware that Time to Care is essential to providing safe, dignified care.’
Community, district and school nurses also have crucial roles to play in improving health in Wales according to the manifesto. It states that there is an urgent need for more senior nurses working in community and district generalist nurse roles. This is due to the sharp fall in district nurse numbers in recent years.
The manifesto also highlighted that safe staffing levels in the community are needed. The College recommends that Health Boards should publish information on the numbers of nurses and patients being cared for in the community.
As well as emphasising the need to increase numbers of district and community nurses, school nurses were highlighted as particularly important to prevent young people from abusing alcohol and drugs. The report calls for their expertise and ability to educate children to be recognised by the Welsh government and health boards in the country.