New standards for nurses working in advanced roles in primary care

A new framework, which is backed by NHS England, has set standards for the academic knowledge, skills and behaviour expected from nurses undertaking advanced clinical practice roles in primary care.

(Photo: monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images)
(Photo: monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images)

The framework, which was produced by Skills for Health on behalf of NHS England, aims to provide greater clarity about what is expected from the role, as well as support new ways of working and the development of multdisciplinary general practice and primary care teams.

Skills for Health said that advanced nurse roles had so far developed without a set standard, which had 'led to varying levels of attainment, resulting in much disparity. This has created confusion for employers, fellow healthcare staff and people because of variation in titles, qualifications and competency.'

It said nurses and their employers could use the new framework to agree the scope of their role, adding that it would also help nurses to develop their knowledge and skills and provide a structure for their career development within primary care.

The education body acknowledged that some existing advanced practice nurses may need to ‘top up’ their academic knowledge or their skill base to show they met the core requirements within the framework.

Advanced clinical practice nurses

The framework includes 13 capabilities that advanced practice nurses must be able to demonstrate, which are divided into four domains: person-centred collaborative working; assessment, investigations and diagnosis; condition management, treatment and prevention; and leadership and management, education and research.

It also details the clinical assessment and management skills that advanced practice nurses should be able to use in key clinical presentations they may encounter in primary care. A standardised ‘scope of practice’ table can be used by nurses and their employers to agree which clinical presentations are part of their role.

Skills for Health said that employing GP practices could also use the framework as part of their nurses’ appraisal process, to support quality assurance and to understand how advanced nurses’ roles fit into the multidisciplinary team.

Former RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: ‘The RCGP is proud to have supported the development of this new framework. GP nurses are a vital part of the general practice team, providing excellent care and support to patients every day. This framework for advanced clinical practice provides scope for GP nurses to take on even more challenging duties and responsibilities, making an even greater contribution to patient care.’

Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs, which was involved with developing the framework, said: ‘The NHS is transforming to a system looking at outcomes rather than activity and removing the historical divide between community services and primary care with the creation of primary care networks. All of this not only requires an expansion of the nursing workforce but also needs a rapid development of skills and range of services offered. This will mean the career opportunities for nurses will increase significantly.’

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