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A brand new General Practice Nursing (GPN) Development Strategy has been launched today (Monday 20 January) to help recruit, retain and further develop Doncaster’s primary care nursing family.

Written by and for primary care nurses, it’s a key step in helping to raise the profile and highlight the endless opportunities that a long term career in primary care nursing can bring. It also sets out how we will deliver key ambitions set out in the national GPN 10 point action plan.

General Practice Nursing has been around since the 1960s. In the early days, nurses were employed to work in treatment rooms and given directions by GPs. They undertook tasks such as dressing wounds, taking observations, obtaining specimens and carrying out simple tests, often alongside reception work*.

Fast forward to 2019 and primary care nurses are doing much more; they are autonomous professionals, able to diagnose, treat and refer to other services across health and care when required.

Over the last few years, a number of new roles have been introduced into primary care nursing, such as Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Health Care Assistant (HCA) and the introduction of a new Nursing Associate role, bridging the gap between Health Care Assistants and registered nurses.

Andrew Russell, Chief Nurse at NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “I am delighted with this new, dynamic and innovative strategy to help ensure that we continue to invest in and support our existing primary care nurses, as well as encourage more people to join this fantastic profession.

“Like the rest of the country, we know that a significant proportion of our GPN workforce is nearing retirement age. Which is one of the reasons why we have put clear steps in place to ensure we have enough nurses for the future and point out the endless opportunities a career in primary care nursing can bring.”

The vision set out in the strategy was pulled together using the words of Doncaster General Practice Nurses (GPNs) and the wider primary care nursing family:

·       We will develop confident, skilled General Practice Nurses that provide a high quality, integrated and sustainable service

·       We will empower and inspire General Practice Nurses to drive and lead quality and improvements, to build on their existing skill set and achieve their potential.

Zara Head, Queens Nurse and Lead Nurse for Primary Care Quality at NHS Doncaster CCG said: “We are really fortunate in Doncaster to have so many dedicated primary care nurses that provide safe, compassionate care, day in, day out. They’re skilled, knowledgeable and committed experts who work together with other clinicians and staff in local practices to provide exceptional care for our patients.

“But we know that we need to do more to support our existing primary care nursing workforce. It has been fantastic working with nurses over the last 12 months to build the strategy and very reassuring to know that this is what our primary care nurses want and need.

“As well as shine a light on primary care nursing, I have also been working hard as an Ambassador for nursing with Nursing Now England, working with nurses across Doncaster to encourage them to be proud and shout out about the opportunities available in primary care nursing and beyond.

“I look forward to continue being part of Doncaster’s primary care nursing future; helping to encourage younger people to recognise what a wonderful career nursing is.”

The GPN Development Strategy is launched in the same year as Florence Nightingale’s bicentennial year, designated by World Health Organisation as the first ever global Year of the Nurse and Midwife. It is also an opportunity to say thank you to the professions; to showcase their diverse talents and expertise; and to promote nursing and midwifery as careers with a great deal to offer.

A programme of training, events and package of support will help deliver the vision and key aims of the strategy.