Policy briefing

New voluntary standards for general practice nurses

New voluntary standards on the education and practice of senior general practice nurses have been drawn up by the Queen’s Nursing Institute, aiming to improve the availability and content of training courses and provide guidance to practice nurses and their employers

New voluntary standards on the education and practice of senior general practice nurses have been drawn up by the Queen’s Nursing Institute, aiming to improve the availability and content of training courses and provide guidance to practice nurses and their employers


Picture: Science Photo Library

Essential facts

The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) and QNI Scotland started a project to set voluntary standards for senior general practice nurses (GPN) after a survey published in 2016 of more than 3,400 of the nurses identified a lack of consistency in educational opportunities and a pressing need to recruit more nurses to these roles.

Only half of respondents said their employer always supported their professional development.

Currently there are no courses approved by the NMC in Northern Ireland and Scotland, and provision of courses in England and Wales is limited.

Nursing and Midwifery Council standards for specialist practice for general practice nursing have in effect not been updated since 1994 and are not felt to reflect contemporary education and practice.

What’s new

New voluntary standards on the education and practice of senior general practice nurses have been drawn up by the QNI, aiming to improve the availability and content of training courses – seen as patchy – and to provide guidance to practice nurses and their employers.

A QNI report identifies key aspects of the senior GPN role, at level 6, and reflects the breadth of competence required to manage and deliver high quality, person-centred care as the leader of a nursing team.

The institute hopes to improve consistency and offer a career pathway to enhance recruitment and retention.

The standards are not designed for nurses new to general practice – such standards are being developed separately by the QNI. New practice nurses are also better served by a range of courses designed to equip new staff with the skills they need.

NHS England’s 10-point action plan for practice nursing – published in July to boost numbers of practice nurses ­– also identified a need to support access to education programmes and an expansion of leadership opportunities. It followed the publication in April 2016 of the General Practice Forward View, which pledged a major expansion of the primary care workforce, including nurses.

Expert comment

Marie-Therese_MasseyMarie Therese Massey, RCN general practice nursing forum chair and senior lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University

‘I welcome the voluntary standards, which are designed to support the senior practice nurse’s role in the future healthcare environment and emerging new models of care set out in the Five Year Forward View. However, while the standards are intended to support discussion and planning by education and primary care nursing providers, access to courses and education programmes remains patchy. The GPN Ten Point Action Plan published this year clearly sets out the need for a greater role for GPN leaders in the future, so if this aim is to be met there needs to be a greater emphasis on supporting nurses to develop the skills needed for it to happen.’

Implications for nurses

Nurses can map their own skills and knowledge against the standards, and collaborate with education providers in developing course content.

The standards are divided into four areas:

  • Clinical care calls for advanced assessment skills, understanding the connection between physical and mental health, and demonstrating advanced communication skills.
  • Leadership and management includes ensuring caseloads are divided safely and effectively.
  • Facilitation of learning calls for a mentorship qualification and supporting a positive learning environment.
  • Evidence, research and development includes contributing to the collation, monitoring and evaluation of service data.

Find out more

General practice nurse standards

General practice nursing in the 21st century survey results

10 point action plan for general practice nursing

RCNi articles

Practice nursing: an action plan for a disparate workforce (Nursing Standard, 2017)

Action plan launched for general practice nursing (Nursing Standard, 2017)

Time for general practice nurses to be NHS employed? (Primary Health Care, 2017)

Illness prevention in the NHS five year forward view (Nursing Management, 2015)

 

 

 

 

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