Many general practice nurses (GPNs) are approaching the end of their careers, with around 50% of the workforce aged over 50 and a significant percentage working less than full time.
Because of this, there is a pressing need to recruit and train more GPNs to sustain and expand the workforce. We also need to support them to develop new skills that maximise the contribution they make to patient care.
We need to find innovative ways of attracting qualified nurses to become GPNs and to inspire newly qualified nurses to take their first steps to a long, fulfilling career in general practice. This is where the new GPN Foundation Programme comes in.
General Practice Nurses (GPNs) work in GP surgeries where they plan and provide care, treatment and health education to patients of all ages. They provide both first contact and continuing care for the population, managing long-term conditions like chronic heart disease, diabetes, and supporting those with mental health problems, learning disabilities or dementia. GPNs deliver immunisation programmes, contraceptive services and cervical screening.
They are key members of a multi-professional team that includes doctors, pharmacists, therapists and a range of other professionals delivering person-centred care.
There are roughly 1,000 GPNs in Wales working across 400 GP practices.
In 2021, we developed a ‘Framework for General Practice Nursing’ which sets out the key skills and competencies of a GPN. This is the first time in Wales that a clear set of standards has been produced.
The framework also supports employers and practice nurses to consider and identify training needs, as well as supporting their career development.
To support this, we have also developed a national GPN foundation programme. This will provide a standardised pathway for nurses who want to develop a career as a GPN.
The programme will be launched in Autumn 2022 with the first cohort of nurses starting in January 2023. It will initially offer 21 nurses the opportunity to participate, with three places available in each Health Board.
The programme will give a standardised curriculum with a blend of national and local learning alongside work-based learning and skills development.
The benefits of this programme for nurses are:
The benefits of this programme for GP Practices are:
HEIW recognises the vital role that general practice nurses play within primary care, and we are excited to champion such a programme that will develop and inspire future GPNs to support patient care for years to come. For more information regarding the GPN Foundation Programme, please contact the team.