General practice nursing’s new voice at the RCN

The RCN’s new professional lead for general practice nursing Marie Therese Massey aims to raise the specialism’s profile

The RCN’s new professional lead for general practice nursing Marie Therese Massey aims to raise the specialism’s profile and embed safe staffing and effective care

  • Queen’s Nurse pledges to support workforce and embed safe staffing
  • Will support strategies that demonstrate the value of the GPN
  • Priorities include developing guidance on terms and conditions
Picture of Marie Therese Massey, who became professional lead for general practice nursing at the RCN in June
Marie Therese Massey became professional lead for general practice nursing
at the RCN in June Picture: David Gee

Three decades of working as a general practice nurse (GPN) have allowed Marie Therese Massey to follow the progression of the specialty as the workforce has flourished. Now she has stepped into the role of professional lead for GPNs at the RCN to help shape the future of this crucial area of primary care nursing.

Ms Massey will be the voice for the college on GPN issues across the UK. She plans to ensure this is heard at the highest levels on pressing concerns such as safe staffing, effective nursing care, GPN education, continuing professional development and employment issues.

Ms Massey, a Queen’s Nurse, says: ‘I want to focus on building the GPN workforce, and supporting the current workforce, to embed safe staffing and effective care across the general practice setting.’

General practice team is caring for more people with complex health needs

In primary care, as across all areas of the NHS, the pressure on services is increasing, Ms Massey says. ‘The demands on general practice are huge for all members of staff and there has been a shift of care closer to home for a number of years.

‘The general practice team is caring for more patients with complex health needs and we are developing and expanding our services to manage the ageing population and emerging long-term conditions such as people living with and beyond cancer. There are 40,000 nursing vacancies in England and general practice is not immune.

‘A proportion of our workforce is planning to retire in the next five years, taking a wealth of skills and experience with them. We need strategies such as the GPN ten-point action plan if we are to future-proof our specialism.’

Picture shows the cover of NHS England’s ten-point action plan for general practice nursing, titled General Practice – Developing confidence, capability and capacity

Other priorities for Ms Massey, who took over the role in June, include developing good employment guidance around terms and conditions, an area that can be more challenging for GPNs as they are employed by GPs rather than the NHS and do not automatically benefit from national pay deals or Agenda for Change.

Specialist community nursing degree, qualified non-medical prescriber and sexual health specialist

Ms Massey, originally from Birmingham, trained in adult and children’s nursing at London’s Middlesex and Westminster Hospitals. Applying for a position as a GPN may have been prompted initially by a desire for more family-friendly hours, but Ms Massey had found a career she loved.

‘I started working at a practice in a challenging area of inner city Sheffield. I moved to a university health service for a number of years before returning to the practice to take the lead on sexual health.’

She took a degree in specialist community nursing, qualified as a non-medical prescriber and specialised in sexual health.

She says: ‘GPNs get to care for people throughout the lifespan. We see a huge variety of conditions and deliver some of the most important UK public health strategies. The joy is in seeing your care having a positive impact on patient’s lives and well-being.’

Since 2003 Ms Massey has worked as a senior lecturer in nursing at the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University. She has contributed to pre- and post-registration nursing programmes and has led courses in contraception and sexual health, public health and non-medical prescribing.

Guidance on the safe delivery of vaccinations

She has conducted research in community nursing, sexual health and nursing education, and has been a specialist adviser with the Care Quality Commission since 2014.

Ms Massey joined the RCN general practice nurse steering group in 2012, becoming chair in 2014. The forum recently produced a pocket guide on best practice for managing childhood vaccination and immunisation clinics, which addressed a gap in the guidance around the safe delivery of vaccinations.

She is excited to be supporting the 50,000 GPNs in the UK in her new role and says: ‘I will strive to raise their profile and support strategies that demonstrate the value of the GPN as essential in the successful delivery of primary care.’

Erin Dean is a health journalist

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