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Investment in primary care nurses vital, RCN's Janet Davies tells MPs

RCN general secretary Janet Davies appears before Commons health committee

Better education, clearer career pathways and more attractive contracts are essential if there is to be an increase in the number of nurses going into primary and community care, RCN general secretary Janet Davies told MPs.

Janet Davies

Ms Davies told the cross-party Commons health committee there had been a 28% reduction in community nurses from 2010-14, but added the number of community-based clinicians with the advanced skills required to handle extra responsibilities had increased.

She said: ‘GPs want nurse practitioners in their surgeries but they can’t get them. We need to invest in primary care workforces, particularly nurses, and to get the career framework in place so they don’t feel they have to leave to further their achievements.

‘Consistency of employer contracts would definitely help because at present salaries are not standardised. The best practices have the best education and the best reward packages for nurses. There also needs to be clear commitment to educating trainee nurses about general practice right at the start.'

Speaking to Nursing Standard following the committee hearing, Ms Davies said: ‘It was good to have the opportunity to put forward the arguments practice nurses have been putting to us for some time. I think the government is listening to us on this and hope the committee’s final report will set out a clear role for nurses in primary care to take on in future.’

The committee, chaired by Conservative MP and former GP Sarah Wollaston, is investigating the state of primary care in the UK. Its report will be published early next year.

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