Practice nurse consultations are increasing, statistics by the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) have shown.
Natasha Curry, a senior fellow in health policy at the Nuffield Trust, analysed these figures in a blog post on the think-tank's website. She said that the number of consultations rose by around 11%. When the data was broken down it showed that consultations with GPs rose by approximately 2%, whereas consultations with nurses rose by 8%. Consultations with 'other' staff (including pharmacists, physiotherapists and speech therapists) increased by 18%.
The Nuffield Trust analysed the data collected from 337 practices in England between 2010/11 and 2013/14.
In her blog Ms Curry highlighted that in hospitals there are monthly publicly available figures for how many people are treated, for what condition and length of stay. However, there is no similar system for general practice making it difficult to understand exactly what is causing the pressures.
She also stated that the difference in the way practices record data means that it is difficult to apply these trends nationally.
However, Marina Lupari, the professional lead for community and primary care nurses at the RCN said that the figures were not clear on what terms the consultations have risen. 'In terms of whether it's more workload for practice nurses or if its an increase in practice nurse numbers, those figures don't tell me that,' she said.
'One of the solutions to the general practice crisis is the employment of practice nurses. The challenge in the past was that we didn't know how much was being done by practice nurses. It's only now that we are capturing figures as more and more work is being done by practice nurses and ANPs, and GPs are seeing people with more complex conditions.'
From this year, Ms Lupari said, that there will be a requirement for GP practices to report to NHS England the number of practice nurses employed in each practice.
'This is so we can see how many practice nurses we need. Over the next couple of years we will collect more data on the valuable contribution of practice nurses, which is exciting because we haven't had that before,' she said.
'There's a lot of work going on with practice nurses at a strategic level. They have many challenges on a day-to-day basis and we are working to overcome some of those challenges,' said Ms Lupari.