General Practice Nursing

The General Practice Forward View (GPFV) published in April 2016 pledged a major expansion of the primary care workforce. To meet rising demand, members of the primary care team, including nurses, pharmacists, mental health therapists and physician associates will play an increasing role in providing day to day co-ordination and delivery of care.

To provide a highly-skilled General Practice Nursing (GPN) workforce, the GPFV includes investment to fund a support and development programme for nursing teams in primary care over four years. The plan is aimed at raising the profile of general practice nursing as a first destination career, improving access to training, increasing the number of pre-registration nurse placements, enhancing retention and supporting return to work schemes for practice nurses.

To support and strengthen the general practice nursing workforce, NHS England commissioned Ipsos Mori to undertake a series of focus groups with GPNs to identify the issues related to recruitment, retention and return for nurses into general practice nursing.

The research provides us with helpful evidence direct from GPNs about their role and the challenges they face, backed up with proposals to help:

  • increase the number of pre-registration nurse placements
  • improve retention of the existing nursing workforce
  • support for return to work schemes for practice nurses and
  • improve the training capacity in general practice.

Health Education England (HEE) published General Practice Nursing (GPN) Workforce Development Plan – Recognise, Rethink and Reform, in March 2017.  This workforce development plan included a series of recommendations for organisations that can influence the general practice nursing workforce to take forward and builds on the findings from Ipsos Mori research, including research published by the Queens Nursing Institute (QNI) General Practice Nursing in the 21 Century – a time of opportunity. The recommendations from the HEE plan have been a key consideration in the development of the GPN ten point action plan.

The research and the ten point action plan also aligns with and supports delivery of Leading Change, Adding Value (LCAV); a framework for nursing, midwifery and care staff, published in May 2016 by helping GPNs to focus on where change can be made and how to do this.

In response to previously published plans and research, we have developed General Practice – Developing confidence, capability and capacity: a ten point action plan for General Practice Nursing that describes the changes required to improve recruitment and retention, and encourage the return of nurses to general practice. The plan is led by Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England and its overarching focus is to build and develop the capacity and capability that we need to see across the whole primary care workforce in order to enable us to manage more people’s health closer to home, as well as building GPN capability to support improved and innovative approaches in delivering health and wellbeing.

All ten actions should be seen as part of an overall plan to develop general practice nursing. The actions identified complement each other and the GPN ten point action plan should be seen in the overall context of the GPFV.

The GPN ten point action plan sets out the measures required to bring about the changes that are needed, which will be taken forward by NHS England, Health Education England, NHS Improvement, Public Health England, The Royal College of Nursing, The Royal College of General Practitioners, The Queens Nursing Institute and The British Medical Association. These organisations will support commissioners and providers to implement the actions at local level. Delivery of this Ten Point Action Plan at a local level will be supported by one of four Regional GPN Delivery Boards.

General practice at scale and new care models provide fresh opportunities for supporting general practice nurses to develop skills and advance their careers. This will assist recruitment and retention which will in turn ease GPs’ workload as well as improving the experience of care for individuals, the outcomes of care and treatment, the use of NHS resources and staff experience.

LCAV will help focus GPNs on where change can be made and how to do this. This GPN ten point action plan supports GPNs to implement LCAV, focusing on increasing and improving prevention, improving the quality of care and delivering value for money.  It helps nurses and health care support workers (HCSW)  focus on demonstrating their contribution to reducing the three gaps identified in the Five Year Forward View – the health and well-being gap, the care and quality gap, and the funding and efficiency gap.

The general practice nursing workforce must be in the forefront of leading change by delivering better health outcomes in primary care, and by making primary care ‘the place to be’ for ambitious nurses who deliver world class care and support our population to live well.

For further information and updates:

For regular information and updates, please use the following resources to stay in touch with how the plan will be implemented at a local level and how you can help shape, lead and transform general practice nursing.