A 10-point plan published on Thursday on developing the general practice nurse workforce focuses on three key areas – attracting new recruits, supporting existing nurses and encouraging return to practice.
The actions, backed by £15m, include promoting nursing in general practice by raising the profile of the career through the ‘image of nursing’ programme, offering clinical placements for undergraduates and supporting additional routes into general practice nursing.
Nurses will be offered a wider range of career opportunities, with improved access to clinical academic careers, leadership programmes and training hubs to support leadership opportunities.
The national return to practice programme will also be expanded to include general practice nurses for the first time.
Nursing will be developed to play ‘a crucial role’ within prevention in primary care, including health checks, supporting and educating the public about their general health and helping people lead healthier lifestyles.
General practice workforce
Professor Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England, said: ‘Nurses working in general practice may not have always received the recognition they deserve in the past but they are central to our plan to improve care for patients and ensure the NHS is fit for the future.
‘That is why I am determined to ensure that there is a proper career development programme for those who choose this vital path and make it an attractive first choice for newly-qualified nurses as well as helping experienced staff take advantage of the flexibility it offers to re-enter the workforce.’
RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: ‘Practice nurses are incredibly important members of the practice team, and highly valued by GPs and patients alike – but as patient demand has soared, numbers of practice nurses, like GPs, have not kept pace.
‘The college has been calling for elements of this plan to be introduced for many years, so we’re really pleased to see wheels being put into motion. We now need all aspects of this plan to be implemented in full and as swiftly as possible – and we will play our part in ensuring it is a success.
‘We look forward to welcoming, and welcoming back, as many practice nurses to the profession as possible.’