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Nurses key to improving older people’s access to GP services

Advanced and specialist nurses have the potential to improve 'unacceptable variations' in older people's experiences of GP services, report says.
GP services

Advanced and specialist nurses have the potential to improve unacceptable variations in access to GP services for older people in Wales, according to a new report.

Independent Older Peoples Commissioner for Wales Sarah Rochira made a range of recommendations in her latest guidance to health boards. She identified many examples of good practice and innovation in the country, but said that there is an unacceptable level of variation in peoples access to and experiences of using services.

Her report, GP Services in Wales: The Perspective of Older People, was produced after 41 sessions attended by 648 people. A further 1,017 people responded to a questionnaire.

Greater flexibility

One recommendation is to hire more advanced nurse practitioners, because patients

Advanced and specialist nurses have the potential to improve ‘unacceptable variations’ in access to GP services for older people in Wales, according to a new report.


Many older patients said it was easier to make an appointment with an advanced
nurse practitioner or specialist nurse than a GP. Picture: iStock

Independent Older People’s Commissioner for Wales Sarah Rochira made a range of recommendations in her latest guidance to health boards. She identified many examples of good practice and innovation in the country, but said that there is an ‘unacceptable level of variation in people’s access to and experiences of using services’.

Her report, GP Services in Wales: The Perspective of Older People, was produced after 41 sessions attended by 648 people. A further 1,017 people responded to a questionnaire.

Greater flexibility

One recommendation is to hire more advanced nurse practitioners, because patients believe they have greater flexibility. Many said that it was ‘easier to make an appointment with them than a GP’.

Examples given of good practice were some surgeries that employ specialist Parkinson’s nurses and others who employ community psychiatric nurses to help people with dementia.

Hwyel Dda University Health Board, which covers the predominantly rural areas of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, was highlighted for employing two trainee advanced nurse practitioners who together provided more than 40 appointments a day.

However, the report warns that scheduling of appointments with specialist nurses must be sufficiently explained to patients so they don’t feel it is an attempt to block access to a doctor.

'Significant pressures'

In the questionnaire, 94% of respondents said they felt listened to and understood by their GP or nurse and 92% said their views were respected in decisions about their health.

Ms Rochira said: ‘I understand the significant pressures currently being faced by GP services and the wider primary care sector, and the real challenges that these pressures can create.

‘But at a time like this, it is more important than ever to listen to and understand older people’s experiences to address any concerns and ensure that a greater cost isn’t paid further down the line.’

To read the report click here


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