Nurses should be included in under-doctored areas formula, research shows

Measures to identify ‘under-doctored’ areas should be overhauled to account for the level of nursing staff practices employ, UK research suggests.

Kate Howie
Kate Howie

Current measures of ‘under-doctoredness' are too doctor-centric, given that GPs make up less than a third of the general practice workforce, researchers from the University of York Centre for Health Economics believe.

The researchers assessed a variety of measures of general practice provision. 

They found that just one in three of the 30 most under-doctored PCTs identified in the White Paper ‘Our Health, Our Care, Our Say' remained in the bottom 30 when factors other than the level of GP provision were accounted for.

‘GPs make up 30 per cent of the staff in general practice and the mix of GPs, practice nurses and other staff varies considerably across PCTs,' the researchers said. 

‘We suggest that consideration be given to broadening the definition of the general practice staff from GPs to include practice nurses and possibly non-clinical staff as well.'

RCN Practice Nurse Association chair Kate Howie backed a change in how under-doctored areas are defined. ‘It would reflect the way we are moving - towards a whole team approach, with not just GPs but a more skill-mixed model.'

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