Practice nursing transformation scheme builds momentum

The Scottish government has already provided funding to allow 30 surgeries to take on a nurse trainee last year and it is now extending the offer to a further 23. 

“We want to demonstrate that primary care is an ideal early career option”

Karen Wilson

The scheme is to set to change the nursing demographic in primary care, because latest figures show more than half of nurses currently in the sector are aged 50 and over.

The programme is being led by national training body NHS Education for Scotland, as part of chief nursing officer Fiona McQueen’s Transforming Roles initiative.

Professor McQueen has identified a need to “refocus” the general practice nursing (GPN) role to help support the emerging integrated nursing teams that are being put in place to help shift more care out of hospital. 

In addition, evidence shows a increasing number of primary care appointments in Scotland are being led by GPNs and this is being linked to the growing prevalence of chronic diseases.

Helping patients manage chronic diseases is now considered a core component of the GPN role.

Karen Wilson, NHS Education for Scotland’s director for nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals, said: “We’re looking for ways to support more primary care services.

“It’s essential that we offer opportunities for our nursing workforce to develop the skills to help people to manage their own health, provide care closer to home and to reduce the need for hospital admission.

“We want to demonstrate that primary care is an ideal early career option and is beneficial to patients,” she said.

“When we qualified, we didn’t realise that we could go straight into practice nursing”

Jennifer Nutkins

As part of the initiative, nurses will gain skills in a variety of areas including public health, illness prevention, health inequalities, long-term and complex conditions, mental health and wellbeing.

Jennifer Nutkins, a nurse who is undergoing the training scheme, said: “When we qualified, we didn’t realise that we could go straight into practice nursing.

“So I do think it’s a great way to go and you can build on it and there’s so many levels, you can go all the way up to advance nurse practitioner, consultant nurse, so you’re always learning.”

NHS Education for Scotland last year invited general practices to submit a bid for funding to cover the training cost of one newly qualified nurse each and 30 were successful.

This first cohort started their training programmes between September 2018 and January 2019.

The second round of bidding has just been completed with 23 practices winning funding.

The surgeries are currently advertising for one training place each and the nurses are expected to start their placements between September and December 2019.