The rhetoric of providing health care in the community, away from hospital, has been with us for years but the recent media coverage of problems in EDs illustrates how little progress has been made in shifting care from hospitals to primary care services.
It is evident that community and social services are failing to meet demand and with a shortage of GPs and community nurses there is a growing acknowledgement that practice nurses have a critical role patient care and preventing hospital admission.
The problem is that practice nursing is considered by many as a dead end job with few career opportunities and still not regarded as an option for newly qualified nurses. However there are practice nurses across the country working in autonomous roles, as advanced nurse practitioner and developing new models of service. They have an invaluable role in managing long terms conditions and providing continuity of care.
This week I visited Health Education Yorkshire and the Humber who have recognised the potential of practice nurses and are working to change perceptions and engage student nurses in general practice as a career pathway. However many students do not have the opportunity to work in general practice during their training and the myth that you must have acute experience before working in the community still prevails in many areas.
Practices nurses are going to play a vital role in managing and delivering patient care in the future and the roles and opportunities that are emerging in general practice provide exciting opportunities.
If you sit in my GP’s surgery and watch the way the practice nurses greet their patients it is clear that continuity of care brings with it great satisfaction and reassurance for patients. Ensuring we have enough practice nurses to sustain these relationships with patients is clearly part of the solution to the ED crisis.