Nurses don't want to be doctors, Royal College of Nursing tells Hunt

Nurses have no desire to become doctors, the profession's leaders have warned in an apparent rejection of government proposals to create a fast-track conversion course.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) general secretary Janet Davies sought to reassure GPs that there was no widespread desire among nurses to retrain as doctors after health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced plans to develop a new pathway for advanced nurse practitioners to become doctors.

Speaking at the annual conference of NHS Improvement last week Mr Hunt said he had asked the RCN along with the GMC, Health Education England and the Nursing and Midwifery Council to review whether a ‘smooth career path’ could be developed for ‘the small number of advanced nurse practitioners who wish to become doctors’.

‘They are experienced nurses and the skills and experience they have should be properly taken into account if they wish to change their career and become doctors,' he said.

Speaking at a general practice policy conference, Ms Davies said she had spoken to Mr Hunt, and added: ‘I'd just like to reassure you all, there is no wish from nurses to become doctors.’

GP workforce

‘Advanced nurse practitioners believe they are nurses with enhanced skills that provide a very different intervention,' said Ms Davies. ‘Some of those interventions might be the same as some of the interventions that doctors do.

'It doesn't mean doctors and nurses are interchangeable. It doesn't mean they want to be doctors. It is very different, and I just want to make sure you understand that before you get any missives that we are going to do any sort of conversion course.’

The nurses’ leader called for more opportunities for doctors and nurses to train together in primary care at postgraduate level, and called for practices to help develop the career framework for nurses to be trained at all levels within general practice.  

Ms Davies added the new nursing apprenticeship programme also announced by My Hunt last week to recruit 1,000 new nurses every year must ensure some of those are based in primary care. 

Londonwide LMC chief executive Dr Michelle Drage added: ‘I don't think you can put a filter paper between GPs' needs and GP nurses' needs at the moment, I don't think you can draw any conclusion, other than both parts of the professional system are under great strain.

‘And, the mistake is to replace GPs with nurse. Nurses don't want to be GPs. It's a different specialism, and it connects perfectly with general practice.’

Photo: JH Lancy

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