It isn't clear that all general practices are taking training for practice nurses seriously, say leading primary care figures.
During the Health Committee's debate on the primary care workforce this morning, Professor Martin Roland, the professor of health services research at the University of Cambridge and Professor Ian Cumming, the chief executive of Health Education England, spoke about the need to standardise training for practice nurses across England.
Professor Roland said that because it isn't clear on whether general practices are prioritising training for practice nurses, this raises questions on who is responsible in ensuring this is available. 'If we are expecting GPs to expand the scope of general practice, that doesn't seem to be logical to not give them management training,' he said.
Professor Ian Cumming, the chief executive of Health Education England, said: 'There are areas where [Health Education England] have stepped in for training practice nurses in parts of the country but the vast majority is left to individual practices and practice nurses and this needs to be looked at.'
'Smaller practices often have a lack of career development for practice nurses. This is where we could create training hubs for nurses where senior practice nurses can train other nurses. We recently released a new framework which outlines training steps for practice nurses which will address some of these issues,' he added.
Professor Roland also highlighted that there was a lack of career structure for practice nurses and that nurses could be used better in leadership roles and spoke about Cuckoo Lane practice in West London where the nurses lead the practice and employ GPs. 'It does not mean that these modesl will be widespread but all options can be explored,' he said.
The Committee also questioned Professor Roland and Professor Cumming about the numbers of the practice nursing workforce. They said that there were exactly the same problems in the practice nurse workforce as there were in the GP workforce such as the ageing workforce and the lack of students going into primary care. Professor Roland said that 'there needs to be a similar plan for recruiting and retaining practice like the 10 point plan put in place for GPs.'
The aim of the Committee session was to discuss whether the Department of Health and its arms' length bodies have the plans and policies in place now to ensure that high quality care is consistently available to patients in primary care.