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Developing a ‘national module’ for nurses considering a career in general practice: addressing the workforce crisis in primary care

02 April 2024
Volume 35 · Issue 4


The age profile of GPNs means that the pool of experienced GPNs available to recruit is rapidly shrinking. This article looks at potential solutions to the workforce crisis affecting practice nursing

If the predicted workforce crisis in primary care is to be avoided, there is a clear need to increase the number of student nurses considering a career in general practice. Initiatives such as the NHS England national module, described here, are integral to this process. Of the HEIs nationally that responded to a tender from NHS England, SHU was one of seven HEIs awarded a contract to deliver the module.

The SHU module uses a blended approach to learning and provides learners with an insight into general practice and the role of the general practice nurse. It is unique in that it is delivered in partnership with the South Yorkshire Primary Care Workforce and Training Hub and is designed to create a workforce ‘pipeline’ of new graduate nurses who will be equipped to access a regional career pathway for general practice nurses.

There is currently a recruitment and retention crisis in general practice (GP) (NHSE 2023). The shortage of GP nursing staff is compounded by an ageing population and an associated, ever-increasing demand for primary care services (Carrier and Newbury 2016). In the United Kingdom (UK), it is estimated that ~58% of people over the age of 60 are living with at least one long-term condition (LTC), with most of these individuals being managed in primary care by general practice nurses (GPNs) (Stafford et al. 2021).

In addition, the age profile of GPNs means that the pool of experienced GPNs available to recruit is rapidly shrinking. Prior to COVID-19 pandemic, a QNI report identified that approximately 33% of GPNs were due to have retired by 2021 (QNI 2016). Exacerbated by the upheaval precipitated by the pandemic, a significant proportion of this critical mass of experienced nursing staff have now completely disappeared from the general practice workforce (Halcomb et al. 2020).

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