I grew up witnessing the impact that my Mum, as a District Nursing officer, had on the lives of her patients and their families and the pride that she had from bearing the title ‘Queen’s Nurse’. Today I work with two wonderful Queen’s Nurses who have dedicated their lives and careers to nurturing their patients in the primary care setting.
Throughout my nursing career, I have held the view that a Queen’s Nurse should practice clinical excellence, be a role model, leader and teacher. They must be a community or General Practice Nurse who promotes the health and wellbeing of patients, public and other staff, whilst transforming evidence-based innovation and research into practice.
In today’s rapidly changing health care environment, nurses must pick up the baton and raise the profile of nursing and promote the profession as a career destination on all fronts. As we know, the general practice and community workforce faces a recruitment and retention crisis for GPs, GP Nurses and District Nurses alike. The well documented shift in services from Secondary to Primary care has exacerbated this problem.
Although the NHS Long Term Plan promotes the integration of allied health professionals into community and primary care, it does little to address the scale of shortages in the nursing workforce now. There are an estimated 40,000 nursing vacancies in England today and the situation will be made worse by the large numbers of nurses eligible to retire in coming years and the fall in student nurse applications.
One of the most effective ways of ensuring that the supply of nurses increases is to expand the number of placements for pre-registration students in the community/ GP surgery setting. By exposing students to primary care early in their careers, we can raise the profile of GP Nursing; reassure them that GPNs are highly skilled, experienced nurses; offer them an effective learning environment, and pave the way for the transition of newly qualified nurses into GP Nurses.
Please take a positive step in protecting, shaping and growing your nursing workforce. Support from Health Education England, the QNI and your local training Hub will enable you to upskill your nursing team, and become a training practice for pre-registration nurses, nursing associates and Return to Practice nurses. By doing so, together we will ensure that the nursing profession will not fade into invisibility but remain a force that is heard in the modern health care environment.
Sarah Weaver, Advanced Nurse Practitioner