Editorial

Why GPNs should embrace change and make new roles work for them

England’s 2019 Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme aimed to recruit 26,000 general practice staff by 2023-24, but what does this mean for GPNs?

England’s 2019 Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme aimed to recruit 26,000 general practice staff by 2023-24, but what does this mean for GPNs?

Even before the pandemic, the pressures on general practice were well known and innovative ways were needed to meet the growing demand for appointments.

England’s 2019 Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme aimed to recruit 26,000 staff in general practice by 2023-24 to meet a manifesto commitment to increase the number of annual general practice appointments by 50 million. With these new roles the nature of many general practice teams has taken on a different identity and culture, and new hierarchical structure.

England’s 2019 Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme aimed to recruit 26,000 general practice staff by 2023-24, but what does this mean for GPNs?

Meeting the challenges of new roles for general practice nursing
Picture: iStock

Even before the pandemic, the pressures on general practice were well known and innovative ways were needed to meet the growing demand for appointments.

England’s 2019 Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme aimed to recruit 26,000 staff in general practice by 2023-24 to meet a manifesto commitment to increase the number of annual general practice appointments by 50 million. With these new roles the nature of many general practice teams has taken on a different identity and culture, and new hierarchical structure.

Time to embrace a brave new world?

When the scheme was announced, the general practice nurse (GPN) role seemed to play no part in this strategy - the word ‘nurse’ appeared only once in the weighty document. Controversially, the new roles were reimbursed in line with Agenda for Change, which has persistently been denied to GPNs.

‘Now is not the time for silo working – instead ensure your unique skills are recognised and respected in new teams’

So, where does that leave us in this brave new world? I know that many of you feel isolated, sidelined and unfairly treated over the more attractive pay, terms and conditions offered to the new roles. However, those recruited under the scheme have not all had an easy time. They have struggled to find their place in the new primary care systems and access to adequate supervision is patchy. Some have returned to secondary care leaving gaps in the service.

Despite the challenges it is in our interests that the new roles are implemented and integrated into primary care successfully. Now is not the time for silo working but ensuring your unique skills are recognised and respected in new teams.

General practice nurses have shown we can embrace change

This means working with new colleagues, gaining a good understanding of their role and respecting their skills. This is an opportunity for shared learning and a multi-professional approach to primary care. I have seen models where the new teams have monthly case-based clinical meetings, fostering a culture of collaborative care.

Primary care will continue to change. GPNs have shown that we can embrace change and make it work for us. Our generalist skills are essential to the successful delivery of primary care. We must never give up and we will never surrender our role.


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