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Dispelling the myths around the role of a general practice nurse

02 August 2022
7 min read
Volume 33 · Issue 8

Abstract

There are many myths surrounding the general practice nurse role. Sarah Butler looks at these myths and clears up some of the misunderstandings that are often repeated

In the UK there is a need to promote and increase the number of general practice nurses working in primary care. In comparison to their counterparts in secondary care, practice nurse numbers are significantly reduced. In recent years emphasis was placed on keeping individuals well and out of hospital and their conditions managed in primary care where possible. The role of the general practice nurse is still lesser known compared to the role of a staff nurse. Myths still remain around the general practice nurse position including those eligible to apply and the development that is offered.

General practice nurses (GPNs) are highly skilled practitioners and are essential to ensure the smooth running of general practice (NHS England and NHS Improvement, 2021). These autonomous nurses lead, support and encourage their patients to manage their long-term conditions holistically. GPNs work with their patients to gather insights to help provide them with individual support tailored to their needs.

The role of a GPN is often misunderstood by individuals and even downplayed by GPNs themselves. Despite the variety of tasks completed by GPNs, the role of the GPN is often unclear, and its scope and depth are not understood by the wider public (Launder, 2022). For many people, their perception of primary care is based on their own views or opinions from friends and family. For most people, contact with nurses at the GP surgery is limited, especially if they are fit and well. Likewise, for colleagues in other parts of the NHS, they rarely experience the reality of working daily in primary care as a GPN, which does not lead to a collective understanding of the role throughout the NHS, leading to myths.

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