Call to recognise nurses’ “vital” primary care role

Royal College of Nursing says latest NHS workforce report fails to recognise the vital role of nursing within primary care

Thursday 29th August 2019

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said the ‘narrow scope’ of an NHS staffing assessment has left unanswered questions for the wider primary care workforce.

A report published by the national public spending watchdog warns the Scottish Government will struggle to meet its commitment to recruit more people to work in GP surgeries.

Audit Scotland said ministers were likely to miss their target to boost GP numbers by 800, adding a ‘data gap’ was making it harder to plan what primary care staff are needed when and where.

However the RCN cautioned against focusing only on GPs and says larger primary care teams are needed to meet increasing demand.

Eileen McKenna, associate director at the Royal College of Nursing Scotland, said:

“Accurate workforce data and modelling of future demand are essential. We echo the Auditor General’s view that progress has been too slow and the public and our members are feeling the impact of this.

“Unfortunately, today’s report fails to recognise the vital role of nursing within the primary care multidisciplinary team and the impact of increasing demand, and the changes to how primary care is delivered, on the nursing workforce.

“For example, adequately staffed district nursing teams are fundamental to the effectiveness of primary care in providing clinical care in our communities. However, the Scottish Government has yet to deliver on its commitment to set out the necessary investment to grow this workforce.

Ms McKenna added: “Scottish Government needs to do more to understand the impact of the changes to how primary care services are delivered on the wider workforce and to ensure that the public understands what these changes will mean for them.”