The survey of over 1,000 practice nurses also revealed that 13 per cent are prescribing without having the nurse prescribing qualification and 49 per cent of those involved in women's health do not have the family planning certificate.
The research, carried out by the Working in Partnership Programme (WiPP), is the first hard evidence to show that access to employment standards, training and continuing professional development is a postcode lottery for nurses in general practice.
Sue Cross, project manager for WiPP's General Practice Nurse Initiative, said: ‘Education provision in general practice is not universally available and does not always meet the needs of the nurses. There is evidence that some nurses are carrying out tasks that they are not formally trained to perform.'
A WiPP working group blamed poor practice on unsuitable models, the fact GPs face no consequences for failing to support nurses' development and a lack of funds.
WiPP will use the survey findings to push for ‘professional development standards for nurses' to be embedded in general practice.
A draft version of the standards says practice nurses should have ‘a robust contract' within two months of starting their job. It also calls for a comprehensive job description, pay linked to Agenda for Change, a study leave policy and protected time for professional development.
It says that each nurse should have a ‘competence file' detailing work they can and cannot do, and offers a grid setting out training and support needed at different levels of practice nursing.
The RCN, RCGP and the BMA will be asked to endorse the standards.
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