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New voluntary standards for senior general practice nurses launched by QNI

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A set of new voluntary standards have been launched to support the education and practice of senior nurses working in primary care settings.

The standards cover the four “key domains” of clinical care, leadership and management facilitation of learning, and evidence, research and development.

“At the heart of these standards is high quality person-centred care”

Clare Gable

The nursing organisations behind the standards highlighted that they were “deliberately broad to reflect the wide range of roles and responsibilities” found in practice nursing.

“They do not focus on discrete clinical skills, as it is assumed that the generic skills will have already been achieved,” said the standards document.

The Queen’s Nursing Institute and QNI Scotland jointly launched the new Voluntary Standards for Senior General Practice Nurses on Tuesday, to coincide with the QNI’s annual conference in London.

The document is designed to identify the key aspects of the senior practice nurse role and “reflect the breadth of competence” required to manage and deliver high quality, person-centred care as the leader of a nursing team, said the two organisations.

They said the standards had been developed with leading experts from across the UK to help support senior practice nurses, focusing on the level 6 role – as defined in Health Education England’s 2015 education and career framework.

“Senior GPNs are now undertaking many areas of work that were traditionally reserved to GPs”

Crystal Oldman

Nurses themselves will be able to “map their own skills and knowledge” against the standards, and collaborate with education providers in developing course content, said the two organisations.

The standards document noted that there were a “number of challenges” to developing strategic approaches to general practice nurse (GPN) development.

“Most GPNs are directly employed by GP practices; many work part time and data about workforce is often difficult to obtain,” stated the document.

“Being directly employed, most GPNs are not subject to the Agenda for Change framework and roles and responsibilities and terms and conditions vary greatly between practices,” it added. “Funding and release for education is often inconsistent and this has impacted on educational provision.”

The project, led by Mary Saunders, follows the institute’s earlier development of voluntary standards for district nursing that were published in 2015. It also represents a response to the QNI’s research into the current practice nurse role, which was published in 2016.

The new QNI document is intended to “augment and update” the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s statutory standards to “reflect” current education and practice requirements to support the key leadership role in new models of primary care.

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Crystal Oldman

QNI chief executive Dr Crystal Oldman said: “The specialist expertise of the general practice nursing service has come into sharper focus in recent years, as the policy agenda seeks to move more healthcare into the community, with many GP practices forming federations, hubs and clusters.

“Senior GPNs are now undertaking many areas of work that were traditionally reserved to GPs and there are increasing opportunities available to them for the leadership and management of a varied nursing team, as the NHS pioneers new models of care in the community,” she added.

Clare Cable, QNIS chief executive and nurse director, said: “The QNI and QNIS have worked together to ensure that views from the four countries of the UK have shaped this work.

“Whilst the contexts we work in are significantly different, at the heart of these standards is high quality person-centred care and we hope that this work will provide important contribution to strategic discussions UK-wide,” she said.

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