England’s Chief Nursing Officer has launched a 10 point action plan that aims to develop the roles that general practice nurses have, helping to transform care and futureproof nursing in general practice.

The ten point action plan for General Practice Nursing brings together key actions which aim to meet general practice workforce challenges by attracting new recruits, supporting existing general practice nurses, and encouraging return to practice. The plan is backed by a £15 million investment and will help target and prioritise where improvements are needed most. It sets out key milestones, which will allow progress to be measured across general practice nursing for the first time.

The action plan sets out the work needed to deliver more convenient access to care, more personalised care in the community and a stronger focus on prevention and population health driving better outcomes and experience for patients.

Actions include measures to:

  • Increase uptake and promote nursing in general practice – by raising the profile of nursing in General Practice through the ‘Image of Nursing’ programme, offering clinical placements for undergraduates and supporting additional routes into general practice nursing
  • Support for existing general practice nurses – all nurses new to general practice will have access to an induction programme, training and mentoring and an expansion in leadership and career opportunities
  • Encouraging general practice nurses to return to practice.

Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said: “As the NHS transforms the way that we deliver care, treating more patients in the community, the importance of our general practice workforce will only increase.

“Nurses working in general practice may not have always received the recognition they deserve in the past but they are central to our plan to improve care for patients and ensure the NHS is fit for the future.

“That is why I am determined to ensure that there is a proper career development programme for those who choose this vital path and make it an attractive first choice for newly-qualified nurses as well as helping experienced staff take advantage of the flexibility it offers to re-enter the workforce.”

Arvind Madan, GP and NHS England Director of Primary Care, said: “General Practice Nursing teams are a vital component of the general practice workforce. They provide care and treatment across the life course and increasingly work in partnership with GPs to manage overall demand in practices and treat patients with complex conditions. This support plan will go a significant way in supporting general practice, helping deliver the care that matters most to patients.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Practice nurses are incredibly important members of the practice team, and highly valued by GPs and patients alike – but as patient demand has soared, numbers of practice nurses, like GPs, have not kept pace.

“The College has been calling for elements of this plan to be introduced for many years, so we’re really pleased to see wheels being put into motion. We now need all aspects of this plan to be implemented in full and as swiftly as possible – and we will play our part in ensuring it is a success.

“We look forward to welcoming, and welcoming back, as many practice nurses to the profession as possible.”

Wendy Preston, Royal College of Nursing, Head of Nursing Practice, said: “It’s time to raise the profile of primary care. This framework for action recognises the tremendous contribution and challenges faced by general practice nurses and their teams, and highlights their pivotal role in delivering care closer to home.

“With large numbers of the workforce set to retire in the next few years, we must not delay making general practice an attractive career for nurses.

“General practice nurses are well placed and indeed deliver high quality services, meeting the needs of their practice populations every day. We need to prioritise general practice and make it the ‘place to be’.”