Practice Nursing – What Challenges Does It Face?

As a result of the recruitment and retention issues surrounding practice nursing, the GP Forward View initiative of 2016 announced plans to improve training and retention within the profession. Two years on, and it’s clear that practice nursing still has many challenges to overcome.

Official discussions on these challenges are often vague, but there is certainly a major recruitment drive for nurses underway in the UK. Let’s look at some of the recent findings relating to the role of practice nurses and the issues they address.

Practice nurse salaries are inconsistent

Recent statistics from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) showed that those in practice nursing have suffered as a result of the public sector pay cap. What’s more, 70% of those surveyed by the RCN do not feel their salary reflects the demands of the role.

This inconsistency is primarily due to the fact that practice nurse salaries are left to the mercy of individual practices. While the average income of 266 surveyed practice nurses was £35,475, the research also shows salaries lower than £22,000, which is below the starting salary for many newly qualified nurses.

Practice nursing offers little opportunity for pay rises

According to the same RCN findings, more than half of the UK practice nurses that took part in the study reported that they weren’t allowed to bring up the issue of pay during appraisal meetings. Less than a third of practice nurses were allegedly denied a pay rise during an appraisal, while 8% of those surveyed have never been given a formal appraisal at all.

Reasons given to nurses varied between practices but included that pay discussions “warranted a separate meeting”, and that the practice “simply couldn’t afford pay rises”.

Practice nurses are paid less than the terms stated in job adverts

In the same report, general practice nurses reported being paid less than what was outlined in the job advert they applied for, with some being offered thousands below the stated salary.

What is the future of practice nursing?

Now that the challenges of practice nursing have come to light, the future looks brighter for those in the profession. The NHS Alliance has requested a standardised agreement on pay terms for practice nurses going forward.

Leading up to the plan last year, NHS England identified the issues related to recruitment, retention and return for practice nurses. The research provided evidence direct from practice nurses about the challenges they face. The findings led to proposals which will aim to do the following:

  • Increase the number of pre-registration nurse placements
  • Improve retention in the existing nursing workforce
  • Support return-to-work schemes for practice nurses
  • Improve training in general nursing practice

Practice nurses are also included in the GP Forward View. This initiative made it clear that practice nurses will be expected to play an increasing role in providing primary care to a growing number of NHS patients.

The Forward View pledges investment to fund a support and development programme for nursing teams in primary supervision over the next four years.

General practice nursing delivers high-quality services to patients across the UK. The Government seems to have recognised that we need to prioritise general practice and make it, in the words of Katheryn Yates, the “place to be”.

General practice nursing is becoming an attractive career choice

With large numbers of the workforce set to retire in the next few years, we must not delay making general practice an attractive career for nurses,”

Kathryn Yates, RCN Professional Lead for Primary and Community Care.

Thanks to the pledged changes in the practice nursing profession, the next few years are set to see more qualified nurses enter general practice. If you want to be one of them, visit our recruitment page to find the latest practice nursing positions and job adverts. If you want to have an informal chat about your next career move in the medical field, you can call us on 03000 243 333.