Retaining nurses in general practice through mentorship
A scheme to recruit newly qualified nurses into general practice in Devon also had a surprising impact on the experienced nurses that took part
The need to attract new staff to general practice, as well as retain existing staff, is a nationwide problem. The Devon general practice nurse (GPN) workforce profile is heavily weighted towards retirement with 62% aged 50 years and above. To help address this, Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) started a legacy mentor programme. Sarah Hall, Practice Nurse Lead, and Sarah Harris, Primary Care Development Officer, led on this project.
A 2021 Local Medical Committee (LMC) survey demonstrated low morale among GPNs, with many planning to leave after the COVID-19 pandemic. GPN vacancies on the LMC website and NHS jobs were also unprecedentedly high due to practices only wanting to recruit experienced practice nurses, which left no option for newly registered nurses other than community or secondary care.
The legacy mentor programme started as part of the Generational Retention Vanguard Programme (GRVP), a 12-month programme to support general practice in Devon to recruit newly registered nurses (within 2 years of registration), which includes a fully funded University of Plymouth Graduate and Post Graduate Certificate in Fundamentals of General Practice Nursing, mentorship with an experienced nurse and additional funding for CPD. Lorraine Beckett, GPN and Lead Educator at Beacon Medical Group said: ‘The GRVP ticked so many boxes. It provided an accredited course and had the bonus of being funded and providing a legacy nurse mentor. This made it an extremely attractive offer to the GP [partners] and reduced pressure on the nursing team.’
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