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Practice nurses’ impending retirement is “major concern”, says QNI chief

According to a new report published by the Queen's Nursing Institute, over one third of nurses in general practice are planning to retire within the next five years

Posted: 19 January 2016

Over a third of experienced general practice nurses will retire in the next five years, a “major concern” for the profession, the chief executive of the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) said.

A survey, carried out by QNI and published in its new report, General Practice Nursing in the 21st century: A Time of Opportunity, revealed that 33.4 per cent of practice nurses are due to retire by 2020.

Commenting on the figures, Dr Crystal Oldman, chief executive of the QNI, emphasised the importance of attracting young nurses to the profession so that patients can continue to get the highest standard of care possible.

She said: “The role of nurses in general practice is expanding rapidly, and many of today’s nurses are now undertaking roles traditionally the reserve of GPs.

“There is a huge opportunity for increased investment in the general practice nurse workforce, to build the capacity of primary care , move more care to the community and closer to people’s own homes, and ease the pressures on A&E.”

The survey findings also revealed there is a greater need for appropriate preparation and support of those who are new to general practice, as well as an increase in the number of student placement learning opportunities for students who want to pursue a career in primary care.

Only 29.7 per cent of respondents said their practice offers work placements for pre-registration nursing students, a figure described as “worrying” and “concerning”.

A practice nurse was quoted in the report as saying: “General practice is only going to continue to grow, and with the difficulties of recruiting GPs there is a massive opportunity for nurses to develop their skills and become real specialists in this area.

“I think more time needs to be put in pre-registration nursing education around general practice and that a placement in the area should become mandatory.

The nurse added: “With the emphasis on caring for people in the community and avoiding hospital admission it surely makes sense for student nurses to spend more time in this area.”

The report is based on an online survey completed by more than 3,400 general practice nurses during 2015. It is the largest survey to date, and the first carried out by the community nursing charity.

Dr Oldman said: “This survey validates the role of the general practice nurse and the support provided by nurses in general practice.

“They are a vital part of the healthcare system in every part of the UK.”