Without a large increase in the number of student nurses encouraged to work in practice settings, the primary care workforce could fall into crisis, a leading workforce expert has said.
Speaking to Independent Nurse at the Midlands and East General Practice Nurse conference on 25 Feburary, Dr Peter Lane, a GP in Barnsley and the clinical lead for Health Education Yorkshire and the Humber, said: 'Most people think that there is a crisis in GP numbers, but there is also a problem with practice nursing. As more nurses retire, there will not be enough practice nurses to fill the gaps. GPs need to understand that without the support of a practice nursing workforce, they may not survive.'
Dr Lane was a co-developer of the Advanced Training Practice scheme, which promotes practice nursing placements for student nurses. The scheme, sometimes known as the 'hub and spoke' model, is centred around eight administrative hub practices, which provide six- to 14-week placements for student nurses across Yorkshire and the Humber. There also a number of 'spoke' practices, which are supported by the hub practices to take on student placements.
The scheme aims to provide 700 placements in practices each year by 2016. It has been highly successful in changing career ambitions for student nurses, with over 80% of participants saying that they would consider practice nursing as a career. Dr Lane and his team received the 2014 HSJ workforce award for their work on promoting general practice.
Dr Lane added: 'Often, practice nursing was not considered as a career by students. That needs to change if we are going to cope with the future of the NHS.'