A review is needed into the potential barriers to nurse education opportunities in primary and community care settings, according to a report prepared for a national workforce planning body.
The report said a review of funding arrangements for student nurse placements and guidance to clear up confusion over indemnity arrangements was required.
“Releasing nurses from service to undertake mentorship was difficult”
Health Education England was told by the community nurse experts who wrote the report that such measures were needed in order to boost learning opportunities in community and primary care.
The report investigated challenges and successes among 46 primary and community placement schemes for pre-registration student nurses in England.
It found employers were less incentivised to take on student nurses compared with medical students due to discrepancies in tariff funding.
At GP practices, managers also found it difficult to release nurses for mentor training due to financial constraints, according to the report by the Queen’s Nursing Institute.
Meanwhile, additional funding provided to new schemes to boost the number of community and primary placements in different regions across the country “varied widely” and needed to be addressed, said the QNI.
“The difficulty in recruiting general practice nurses is starting to hit as well”
The report also revealed indemnity arrangements were causing problems, resulting in students being withdrawn from placements due to some GP practices being wrongly told that trainee nurses were not covered by their existing arrangements.
Among its recommendations, the QNI said that Health Education England – which commissioned the report – should release a joint statement with medical indemnifiers to clear up any confusion over indemnity for student nurses in GP practices.
It also recommended more support for innovations in training mentors and ongoing funding for practice education facilitators.
Work should also be done to address how employers can attract students into primary and community settings earlier on, as many are “scooped up” by acute trusts six months before they qualify, according to QNI project manager Mary Saunders, who led the review.
Need for clarity on community placement indemnity
However, presenting the report findings at the QNI conference last week, she said the national nursing shortage was also prompting some GP practices to take on more nurse placements.
“On the constraints side [of setting up placements], funding is a major issue. Because releasing nurses from service to undertake mentorship was difficult and those who did have mentorship qualifications from the past needed updating,” said Ms Saunders.
“The difficulty in recruiting general practice nurses is starting to hit as well. That made some practices think ‘well actually if we start to take students we may be able to persuade them this is where they want to come and work’,” she added.
HEE has not yet published the document or its response but a spokeswoman told Nursing Times that the body was “currently considering the findings of the report and will comment in due course”.