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NHS England's 10-point plan to boost practice nurse workforce

NHS England has pledged £15m to bolster the general practice nurse workforce and develop their role to help ease workforce shortages across general practice.

A 10-point plan published last week on developing the general practice nurse workforce focuses on three key areas – attracting new recruits, supporting existing nurses and encouraging return to practice.

The actions, backed by £15m, include promoting nursing in general practice by raising the profile of the career through the ‘image of nursing’ programme, offering clinical placements for undergraduates and supporting additional routes into general practice nursing.

Nurses will be offered a wider range of career opportunities, with improved access to clinical academic careers, leadership programmes and training hubs to support leadership opportunities.

The national return to practice programme will also be expanded to include general practice nurses for the first time.

Nursing will be developed to play ‘a crucial role’ within prevention in primary care, including health checks, supporting and educating the public about their general health and helping people lead healthier lifestyles.

The 10-point plan

Four regional ‘General Practice Nursing Delivery Boards’ will be set up and will be accountable for developing a local plan for delivery of the action plan. The ten points are:

1. Raising the profile of nursing in general practice The ‘Image of Nursing’ programme will form the basis of this work, recognising the important contribution of the practice nurse workforce and promoting it as a highly-valued career option.

2. Supporting leadership opportunities Equipping practice nurses with the skills and competencies to take on leadership positions through greater access to leadership programmes, mentors and training hubs.

3. Increasing the number of pre-registration placements in general practice This will give undergraduate nurses a chance to experience what it is like to work in primary care.

4. Establishing inductions and preceptorships Going forward all nurses new to general practice will have access to an induction programme and a professional development plan.

5. Improving access to ‘return to practice’ programmes The national return to practice programme will now include practice nurses.

6. Delivering on prevention Nursing will play a crucial role supporting and educating the public about their general health, helping people lead healthier lifestyles to try and avoid ill health.

7. Access to educational programmes geared towards delivery of care needed in the future Programmes will be targeted towards skills needed to enhance practice, achieving better outcomes, experience and use of resources. For example, working with practice population health profiles and enhancing care through digitalisation including promoting healthy ageing and physical activity.

8. Expanding career opportunities and progression for practice nurses There will be increased access to clinical academic careers and advanced clinical practice programmes allowing new entrants to work in a number of roles, with the option of progressing to more senior roles such as advanced nurse practitioner, which in the past may not have been an option.

9. Offering additional routes into general practice New career pathways into primary care nursing will be developed, including nursing associates and health support workers.

10. Improving retention Working with NHS Improvement, the four regional boards will support the introduction of successful initiatives relating to the retention of practice nurses to enable all practices to share and adopt best practice.

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