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Prototyping a new minimum standard for general practice nurse education

02 September 2020
9 min read
Volume 31 · Issue 9

Abstract

Many nurses new to general practice struggle to access appropriate education. Sue Crossman and Gill Rogers explain a new piece of work that aims to develop a minimum standard to raise the quality and consistency of training in London

This article presents a general practice nurse (GPN) education standard developed by Capital Nurse in London with an expert group of stakeholders with relevant experience in the field. The goal is to reduce variation in the content and quality of education courses that prepare nurses to work in general practice, providing a kitemark that identifies whether courses meet this standard. This work attempts to address the inequalities experienced by many nurses new to general practice, who struggle to determine the education they need to achieve competence in their role. The standard has been called the GPN ‘Qualification in Specialism Standard’ and is to be adopted and tested by Higher Education institutions across London in 2020.

There is a long history of nurses in general practice having poorly coordinated access to education and variable employment conditions (Atkin and Lunt, 1993; Crossman, 2008; Queen's Nursing Institute [QNI], 2016). The flexibility of their employment model in general practice has attractions but also a down-side, as it limits their ability to negotiate minimum standards of professional development support if they are lacking. These forces in combination affect general practice nurses' (GPNs') perceived level of empowerment and influence at a time they most need to step-up their game to cover the demands in general practice, particularly post-COVID-19. There is a recruitment and retention crisis impacting on GP practices across the UK (Napier and Clinch, 2019). The GPN workforce is fairly stable but predominantly populated by those over 45 years old. The increasing pressure in general practice and the current changes in the structure of primary care puts GPNs in the spotlight as they help their GP colleagues to try and maintain excellent primary care. Finding time to devote to maintaining their continuous professional development and understanding the complex matrix of education on offer is therefore a real challenge, which poses a risk to ensuring quality of care and patient safety.

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