Terry Vine, deputy chief nurse at NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, writes about a pilot programme to attract and train new nurses into general practice…
Nursing is an incredibly rewarding career. Those of us who do the job do it for our love of the role.
Looking after people, helping them get better and manage their conditions – there are many aspects to a nurse’s job.
But what many people are unaware of is the many different settings in which a nurse can work. From a busy hospital ward to accident and emergency, in the community, care homes, mental health care, learning disability settings or a GP practice, nurses can be helping patients right across the NHS and the private sector.
However, registered nurses who want to make general practice their career choice can find securing their first role difficult.
Most employers prefer nurses with experience, but without experience there’s no job and without a job there’s no opportunity for experience.
Experienced general practice nurses (GPNs) are in short supply. Across England it’s estimated that around one third of all nurses will be due to retire in the next five years.
As the focus on keeping people out of hospital increases, there’s an urgent need to maintain a pipeline of new GPNs.
Securing a first GPN role is just the start. Employers need nurses who can hit the ground running.
Most practices need GPNs to deliver specialist services from day one and many don’t have the capacity to support training as well.
But new nurses need extensive training, supervision and careful assessment, and this is placing general practices under increasing pressure.
That is why the General Practice Nurse Specialty Training programme – which Lincolnshire is a pilot host for – represents a new approach to general practice nursing.
We submitted an expression of interest to NHS England and Health Education England to be a pilot site for this programme and were successful. It has seen us recruit 10 registered nurses who will begin the programme at the end of this month.
Each recruit has been allocated to a practice right across Lincolnshire, including in Bourne, Market Deeping, Spilsby, Horncastle, Greyfriars in Boston, Old Leake, Nettleham and Abbey, Birchwood and Boultham Park in Lincoln.
The nurses will be at Bishop Grosseteste University for one day a week completing a post graduate certificate in general practice nursing, while training on the job in the practice on the other four days a week.
The programme lasts nine months and upon completion, the qualified general practice nurses will then be matched to general practice nurse vacancies in Lincolnshire.
It has been equally funded by NHS England, Health Education England and the four Lincolnshire CCGs.
This is a really exciting development for general practice nursing in Lincolnshire.
The model will help increase the numbers of new general practice nurses and will start to reverse the current poaching and recycling of the increasingly short supply of experienced general practice nurses.
The programme is also at the heart of delivering the General Practice Nursing Ten Point Plan, which is an essential part of NHS England’s General Practice Forward View.
We are passionate about making this work in Lincolnshire. Not only will it train new general practice nurses, it will help improve outcomes for patients and strengthen the primary care workforce.
If we make it a success in Lincolnshire, the programme could even roll out nationwide and help develop more general practice nurses right across the country.