During the Summer Nicki Walsh, Programme Leader for Health & Social Care at Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU), presented at a number of international conferences showcasing the work being undertaken in Lincolnshire to support improvements in General Practice.
Changing health and social needs, due in part to longer lifespans and rapidly ageing populations around the world, mean that many causes of ill health are chronic and more complex due to comorbidities (e.g. Diabetes, respiratory disease). This therefore requires the providers of Health and Social care to respond in a dynamic, flexible and sustainable way to these pressures and challenges. While adapting, the focus of practitioners must be on the delivery of safe, effective and appropriate care.
General Practice (in the UK) is well placed to respond to these pressures (NHS England 2013 and NHS England 2015). At the heart of this response is the General Practice Nurse (GPN) however workforce demographics and years of underinvestment in the workforce will see the number of skilled nurses needed reduce considerably in the next 10 years (QNI, 2015), causing what can be termed a “knowledge haemorrhage”, where practice experience and intuitive practice are lost. Therefore, investment in pre-registration and post registration professional education along with creative solutions which respond to this knowledge loss are needed (Walsh, 2017). This is particularly true of recruitment and retention both of which are key to ensuring that provision is fit for purpose.
In August, Nicki presented at the 2nd International Conference on Nursing Science & Practice (United Scientific Group) in London. Her paper looked at a number of interventions and activities which are occurring locally to support the GPN agenda. This included the work with Lincs West CCG, which sees a monthly GPN Educational Forum held at BGU. It also looked at the data from the evaluation of a project with the University of Lincoln, which explored getting newly qualified nurses into General Practice. In addition Nicki presented her preliminary findings from her PhD, which is using a diabetes lens to look at the value and effectiveness of continuing professional development (CPD) for GPNs.
At the beginning of September Nicki was in Cambridge presenting at the 29th International Networking for Education in Healthcare Conference (Advance HE). Delivering her preliminary findings of her PhD to an audience of peers she was well received and was able to establish some important networking opportunities.
Finally, at the end of September a Nicki’s collaborative work with Rachel Mason (from the University of Lincoln) was presented at the Queen’s Nursing Institute Conference at the Royal College of GPs. This showcased work which saw undergraduate student nurses undertake their final management placement within General Practice. This was again well received and work is currently being carried out to prepare a case study for the Atlas of Shared Learning at the request of NHS England, which is designed to showcase examples of good practice designed to lead change across the NHS.
All of this work leads to the new BGU Master's Programme for Primary and Community Care which will see BGU enter the evolving field of Practitioner education with a focus on Advance Practice.