Valuing multi-professional General Practice working

Susan Aitkenhead and Dr David Shackles 7 May 2021

In a joint blog Dr David Shackles Joint Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland and RCN Scotland Director Susan Aitkenhead reflect on the hugely important but all-too-often undervalued role of GP nursing.

General Practice Nursing

There has been a significant change to ways of working during the COVID-19 pandemic. For those delivering health and care across the sectors, this has often meant having to work in different ways to look after patients in the safest and most effective way possible.

For general practice, changes such as an increased use of technology via virtual consultation and tele-conferencing have been crucial to providing a lifeline of vital services across communities and the wider health system.

These services have been central in response to the pandemic. In addition, practices have remained at the forefront of delivering the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The RCN and RCGP Scotland want to recognise the crucial role that General Practice has played throughout the pandemic, particularly the successful multi-professional relationship between medicine and nursing.

The role of general practice nursing has particularly seen much change in recent years, and a light has been shone on it by COVID-19. The role has evolved to be professionally acknowledged as a modern and rewarding career for nurses, which requires skill and competence to work autonomously with a wide range of patients, often who have a wide range of co-morbidities and physical and psychological diagnoses.

However, outwith the nursing profession or fellow primary care professionals, this recognition has not always been reflected and both Royal Colleges are committed to working with General Practice Nurses to realise the full potential of the profession within redesigned primary care services, and through the remobilisation and recovery that Scotland's health and care services are now embarking on.

We believe that the needs of our patients and our respective professions will be best served in a model of general practice which offers a mix of remote and face-to-face appointments to patients. This includes a focus on preventative approaches and supporting people to manage long term conditions which will be key to improved population health and the resilience of the wider health and care system.

We also want to ensure that general practice nursing is a role that newly registered nurses want to choose, and that the opportunities for General Practice Nurses to highlight their work within a multi-disciplinary team and their demonstrable impact on patient outcomes are recognised. In addition, fair pay, good terms and conditions and the opportunity for career progression are key for ensuring General Practice Nurses identify this as a sustainable future career.

Colleagues working in General Practice have experienced disruption, pressure and unplanned change through the pandemic to their usual ways of working but have continued to support and care for their patients. As Royal Colleges, we pledge to work to make sure that the public, the government and the rest of the health and care system understand and appreciate the role of the multi-professional general practice team.

Susan Aitkenhead and Dr David Shackles

Susan Aitkenhead and Dr David Shackles

RCN Scotland Director & Joint Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland

Page last updated - 27/07/2021