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Role of practice nurses “should be expanded”

19 October 2009

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The chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has called for practice nurses to take on more responsibilities in order to enable GPs to spend more time on consultations and 24-hour care.

At an NHS Confederation conference in London last week, Professor Steve Field (pictured) said nurses could do many of the jobs of GPs in order to improve patient care.

He said: “[GPs] need to have consultations with our patients lasting around 15-20 minutes. We should focus on the whole of the patient and provide continuity of care.

“What we are not are minor illness walk-in-centre people. When a GP sees a patient, that patient should become the centre of their universe.”

Professor Field added that patient care should be led by a team that includes nurses, not just GPs, despite the fact GPs may feel threatened by this.

He called for more nurses in primary care, and said the RCGP would launch a forum for practice nurses.

He explained: “Gone are the days when a GP could work in isolation, we need to work in groups and in federations to deliver and commission services.

“One of the worst things we did as GPs was to give up the responsibility for commissioning 24-hour care. GPs should take back that responsibility for 24-hour care, although this poses challenges to the GP contract.”

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Royal College of General Practitioners

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

“Practice nurses are doing most of the work and GPs are taking extra days off. Some GPs are not employing practice nurses and employing non-trained healthcare assistants. About time GPs only did clinical work and that too for job satisfaction instead of money. Staff on GMS contract should have survey to highlight  this issue” – Name and address withheld

“Has Prof Field considered the role of AHPs in general practice? Rather than expanding the role of the practic nurse, perhaps consider the role of the AHP as frontline practitioner in primary care. OT, physio, dietitian, etc all have skills that can complement both GPs and practice staff and could support both frontline triage and treatment” – Claire Alexander, location withheld