As a practice nurse trainer, senior lecturer and advanced nurse practitioner working in clinical practice, I can understand the pressures of being a nurse, but not excuse them.
Nurses working alone in busy practices are trying to, and are required to, keep up to date with continuing professional development. But no access to funding, often no study leave allowance and poor pay leads to a lack of training in the first instance and updating in the latter.
Practice nurses and nurses in secondary care struggle to get the training and time to allow them to be competent.
Defining practice nurses
Practice nurses have a unique set of skills to deal with a vast range of complex, acute and chronic conditions. Child immunisations are becoming more complex, cytology requires ongoing training and travel health consultation is constantly updating.
A recent survey from the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) questioned whether the work of district nurses and practice nurses was interchangeable.1 The list given in the QNI survey of what practice nurses do listed only six items – many of which, in my practice, are run by healthcare assistants, such as smoking cessation clinics.