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Student nurses in the primary care network: a pilot

02 March 2021
11 min read
Volume 32 · Issue 3


Shaun Heath, Rebecca Wilcox and Silvia Leonelli discuss how South East London developed a hub and spoke placement pilot to place students in primary care networks, rather than with individual practices

With support from Capital Nurse, primary care in South East London developed a hub and spoke placement pilot to support student nurses in a primary care network (PCN). Two groups of students were placed in two PCN's, one in an inner London borough (PCN 1) and another in an outer London borough (PCN 2). Our pilot had substantial benefits for the students, the assessors/supervisors, the PCN and, ultimately, the future development of the primary care workforce. We advocate developing strong nurse leadership within the PCN to support and grow the educational unit, and we recommend that recurrent funding be made available to support this and the preceptorship programmes within the Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STP)/Integrated Care System (ICS).

The year 2019 saw the start of a period of rapid change in primary care. The NHS Long-Term Plan (NHS, 2019) was released which proposed that general practices should form networks to deliver contracts rather than work on an individual practice basis; these networks are known as primary care networks (PCNs). Through the Direct Enhanced Service (DES) specifications, primary care will be striving to hold and run service delivery contracts at the level of the PCN that serve populations of 30 000–50 000, by increased amounts year on year. Couple this with the Future Nurse Standards for nurse education and supervision (Nursing and Midwifery Council [NMC], 2018), this makes it a time of great change in the way we not only deliver primary care but also in how we train and develop the next generation of nurses. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, growth of our workforce is now more important than ever.

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