NHS England announces £15 million fund for practice nursing

NHS England has announced a major plan for general practice including an intention to train more doctors and nurses

A multi-billion pound investment to counter pressures facing general practice in England includes at least £15 million extra funding to develop practice nursing. 

In its General Practice Forward View report published today (April 21) and developed with Health Education England (HEE), NHS England said it aims to add an extra 5,000 GPs in the next five years and 5,000 more non-medical staff including nurses, pharmacists and mental health therapists. 

A general practice nurse development strategy, including at least £15 million in extra funding, will aim to increase the number of pre-registration nurse placements; improve retention of practice nurses; and support return to work schemes for practice nurses.    

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said it was particularly encouraging to see funding for more practice nurses and Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) chief executive Crystal Oldman said ‘it is fantastic to have a focus on primary care’. 

Dr Oldman hoped the plan will lead to many more practice nurses developing the skills of nurse practitioners and prescribers, as well as taking on more patient consultations. 

The QNI identified six key actions to develop practice nursing in its recent General Practice Nursing in the 21st Century report, including raising the profile of the specialism and increasing the number of nursing student placements.

Dr Oldman said: ‘There needs to be some consideration of how the £15 million translates into what needs to be done.

‘Increasing capacity and drawing more nurses into primary care means ensuring there is additional placement capacity for nursing students.’

She added that practice nurses need to be freed up from clinical duties to undertake mentorship programmes with nursing students. 

The House of Commons health committee also published a Primary Care report today (April 21) which stressed the importance of multidisciplinary teams.

In an evidence session, Care Quality Commission chief inspector of general practice Steve Field told the committee: ‘There is a direct correlation between inadequate practices – fewer nurses, fewer sessions – and outstanding practices, which have really good multiprofessional care, using nurses and therapists.’

Committee chair Sarah Wollaston MP said NHS England’s plan was a welcome step forward and she said there is a need for longer appointments and for people to be cared for by a wider range of professionals. 

Responding to the plan, Ms Davies said: ‘Practice nurses are key to reducing the strain on the rest of the health service and the RCN looks forward to working with HEE, NHS England and others to ensure that a sufficient workforce is being trained and retained.’

To read the General Practice Forward View report click here

To read the Primary Care report click here

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