What is a General Practice Nurse?

General Practice Nurses work as part of a Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) within GP surgeries and assess, screen, and treat patients of all ages. In addition to providing traditional aspects of nursing care such as wound care, immunisations, and administration of medicines, they run clinics for patients with Long Term Conditions such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes. They also offer health promotion advice in areas such as contraception, weight loss, smoking cessation, and travel immunisations. The role allows nurses to develop long term relationships with individuals and families, managing their conditions and improving physical and mental health and wellbeing. However, this is only possible when sufficient time can be invested to support patients to develop effective self-management and preventative measures.

Nurses working in General Practice are undertaking a wide range of roles, with experienced nurses assuming more of the traditional workload of GPs. For nurses working in primary care, this should be a positive development: for those seeking a challenging and rewarding nursing career, General Practice can offer this.

What do General Practice Nurses do?

  • • obtaining blood samples
    • electrocardiograms (ECGs)
    • minor and complex wound management including leg ulcers
    • travel health advice and vaccinations
    • child immunisations and advice
    • family planning & women’s health including cervical smears
    • men’s health screening
    • sexual health services
    • smoking cessation
    • screening and helping patients to manage long term conditions
    General practice nurses may also have direct supervision of healthcare assistants at the practice.

How do General Practice Nurses fit into the NHS workforce?

Every member of the nursing team, from the health care support worker to the nursing associate, practice nurse, specialist nurse and advanced clinical practitioner, has a vital role in delivering care. They also have a responsibility to lead change and add value so that improved outcomes, a better patient experience and more effective and efficient use of resources can be achieved. GPNs work with their GP colleagues, clinical pharmacists, mental health therapists, physician associates, other allied health professionals, practice managers and receptionists, as part of the extended primary care team. However, like their GP  colleagues, GPNs are under pressure from the rising demand for primary care fueled by the ageing population, the increase in long term conditions and the drive to shift the provision of care into community settings. 

What training and qualifications do General Practice Nurses have? 

GPN must be qualified and registered as an adult, child, mental health or learning disability nurse to work in general practice. They will also need to undertake further training and education or be willing to continue their professional development after being appointed. Some employers may ask for knowledge or experience in specific areas eg health promotion or working with patients with long-term conditions. It is recommended that registered nurses check with local employers and training providers to see what is on offer. With further training and experience, practice nurses can apply for more senior roles, such as senior practice nurse/nurse practitioner and advanced nurse practitioner positions. These roles require considerably more autonomy with the opportunity to move into education, management, teaching or clinical research.

You could take the first step of your general practice nurse career without going to university straightaway. You could enter as a healthcare assistant or assistant practitioner, if you have relevant experience and qualifications, and further develop your skills through additional education and training before starting your degree.

Fact Sheet General Practice Nursing

Related Courses