Investment in GPs' Practice Nurses Must Become a Priority; THE PROFESSIONALS

Article excerpt

Byline: Richard Jones

AS WELL as the 60th anniversary of the NHS, the RCN is this year celebrating 15 years of the Welsh Practice Nurse Association.

Nurses are central to the successful delivery of primary care - they are trusted by the public, and they can be found in all their roles giving advice to patients and carers.

Practice nurses, unlike other nurses in the NHS, are employed by GPs who are sub-contracted to the NHS.

Nurses undertake a two-year course to become nurse practitioners and can then be responsible for nurse-led clinics, administering treatment for minor illness, triage, supplementary or independent prescribing.

Practice nurses do not automatically fall under Agenda for Change - the terms and conditions package for NHS staff - but have variable terms and conditions of employment for pay and training.

Accessible and enhanced primary health care is a key target of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Investment and development of the practice nursing profession must now become a high priority in order to improve services for patients in primary care.

Twelves GP surgeries across Wales have so far agreed to sign up to delivering Agenda for Change terms and conditions for their employees. This is extremely welcome, and positive action should now be taken to ensure the adoption of Agenda for Change terms and conditions for all nurses in primary care.

If nurses are to advance their roles, investment in education and training need to reflect these changes.

We know that nurses employed by GPs often find it particularly difficult to access professional training and we would urge steps to be taken to rectify this.

The Assembly Government must monitor and ensure that practice nurses get access to a set amount of paid protected time for continuous professional development training, in addition to the mandatory annual updates that are required.

Our GP colleagues automatically receive this benefit but practice nurses do not.

Nurses who can independently prescribe will make an invaluable contribution to the quality of primary care delivered to NHS patients. …