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A new set of voluntary education and practice standards for nurses beginning a career in general practice in England have today been published.
Community nursing charity the Queen’s Nursing Institute was commissioned by NHS England to develop the framework to help provide more structure for the role.
“These new standards are an important step in ensuring greater consistency of education and practice in this field”
With many general practice nurses (GPNs) directly employed by general practitioners, they are often faced with vast variations in roles, responsibilities, terms and conditions, as well as career pathways and continuing professional development opportunities.
The standards seek to address some these challenges by giving an overview of the key practice and education requirements for a GPN starting their career and providing a contemporary description of the job.
They also aim to give guidance to education providers developing introductory GPN programmes and specialist practitioner qualification (SPQ) programmes.
Nurses entering primary care are currently not required by mandate to undergo specific education for that speciality although courses are available.
However, it is hoped that education institutions will adopt the voluntary standards as a best practice guide in developing future ‘Introduction to GPN’ programmes.
In fact, the standards recommend completion of an accredited introductory programme for nurses new to general practice of at least six months, within their first year.
Nurses starting a career in primary care should also be offered a minimum one-week period of orientation, a minimum one-month induction, and a period of preceptorship, stated the guidance.
Dr Crystal Oldman, QNI chief executive, said: “General practice nurses are key professionals in delivering vital care to people of all ages in the practice population.
“They are also being called upon to adapt rapidly to the new conditions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“These new standards commissioned by NHS England are an important step in ensuring greater consistency of education and practice in this field, supporting the needs and expectations of nurses themselves, other members of the multidisciplinary team, and their patients.”
The QNI was commissioned by NHS England to develop the standards as one of the actions arising from the NHS 10-point action plan for general practice nursing released in 2017.
Managed by Queen’s Nurse Angie Hack, the project took in views from experts in general practice nursing including nurses, education programme leads, training hub leads and current GPN students.
The standards encompass four key domains: clinical care; leadership and management; facilitation of learning; and evidence, research and development.
They follow the QNI’s publication in 2017 of similar voluntary standards for senior general practice nurses.