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The Many Benefits of a Strong Nursing Team in Primary Care

Ciaran Fletcher

Primary care has been tested in more ways than one in the last year or so. It’s no secret that GPs are under immense pressure with not only speaking to patients on a daily basis, but with the sheer volume of patients they’re expected to.

I have spoken to a number of surgeries in my time as a consultant, that have emphasised how much pressure their GPs are under. This is where a strong and stable nursing team can help out to a great degree.

GPs are often being asked to see patients with minor illnesses. These might be coughs, colds and so on. They’re highly unlikely to be life-threatening and so really aren’t commanding of a GPs immediate attention.

Advanced Nurse Practitioners

Enter stage right, Advanced Nurse Practitioners! Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs) are a true lifeline to so many GP surgeries. The level that they work to, which might include being an independent prescriber, doing home visits, and running telephone triage clinics, takes an enormous amount of work away from GPs. Which in turn, gives them more time to focus on their specialist areas.

Practice Nursing

Another nurse that would be an asset to any GP surgery is a Practice Nurse. They too are educated and trained clinicians who can see specialist areas of healthcare. For example, Practice Nurses can perform baby immunisations, smears, wound care, travel vaccinations, to name but a few. All things that would otherwise have to be seen by a GP. However, where Practice Nurses really step into the light on the stage is when it comes to long-term conditions. Diabetes, asthma and COPD are the main three areas where Practice Nurses take a tremendous amount of work off the hands of GPs. Some specialise in one of these areas, whilst others cover all three.

“Nurse Practitioners or Practice Nurses, are making such a big difference to vast patient populations”

The point I want to emphasise is that in any GP surgery, nurses, be they Nurse Practitioners or Practice Nurses, are making such a big difference to vast patient populations but often go unappreciated because people associate GP surgeries with just GPs.

It is nurses though that are really helping to take these surgeries to the next level with patient care, seeing a great many things that an experienced GP can see and freeing up a GPs time for more urgent appointments that require their attention.

When I first started as a consultant, I often came across the phrase ‘GP is King’…but what is a King without a Queen? (I’m not trying to say that all GPs are men and all nurses are women, it’s just a poetic point to end on!).

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