Darzi extended hours plans could boost advanced nursing roles

Extended opening hours in general practice will boost opportunities for nurses to take on advanced roles, nurses’ leaders believe.

Kate Howie
Health minister Lord Darzi has announced plans for 50 per cent of practices to extend their opening hours. He also called for 150 new practices that open from 8am to 8pm and a further 100 practices staffed by ‘900 GPs, nurses and healthcare assistants’ to be set up in the 25 per cent of PCTs that have the fewest doctors.

Ministers are planning to divert cash from clinical areas of the QOF to fund extended opening. Dr David Haslam, a Hertfordshire GP and clinical director of the National Obesity Forum, said this month that a senior DoH official had told him 60 points, worth £7,476 to an average practice, would be moved.

Senior nurses believe the need to open for longer will force practices to look at broadening skill mix, and strengthen the case for training more nurses to take on advanced roles.

RCN Practice Nurse Association chair Kate Howie said: ‘I think practices should be open longer. They will have to look at a new skill-mix model. This is more ammunition to support training more nurse practitioners.’

RCN primary care adviser Lynn Young agreed: ‘This is an opportunity to put more pressure on general practices to fund training for nurse practitioners. Extended opening hours could mean we have more nurses doing first-contact consultations.’

She said the plans would ‘not necessarily’ require more nurses, because it may be possible simply to stagger shifts more creatively. Nurses may also be able to demand more pay. Ms Howie said: ‘Nurses should negotiate extra pay for working extra hours.’

However, Leicester-based nurse consultant Jane Scullion said many practice nurses had quit hospital work to avoid working shifts and the NHS would need more nurses to achieve extended opening.

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