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The General Practice Nursing lead for Health Education England in Wessex is Pippa Stupple.

Aims to:

  • Provide informed, expert advice and strategic direction to support the development of the non medical workforce in General Practice.
  • Facilitate the implementation and development of an educational framework for non medical workforce in General Practice.


And will do this by:

  • Shaping the strategic direction for the General Practice Nursing across the Thames Valley and Wessex local offices, whilst engaging with the national agenda.
  • Developing an understanding of the local workforce and their learning and development needs.
  • Establishing an appropriate educational framework for the non medical workforce in Thames Valley and Wessex local offices.
  • Facilitating the development of local professional and communication networks.



The General Practice Nurse is still a relatively new community nursing discipline, but as primary care services expand and the management of long term conditions shifts away from secondary care, the GPN has become a major contributor to health care provision in General Practice. The numbers of GPNs in post have increased significantly since the GP contract in 1990 and they now comprise a large proportion of the community nursing workforce.

As the role has grown, so have the range and level of skills required by GPNs. However, most of these skills are not part of pre registration nurse education or experience, nor are they generally found in nurses working in other settings. Despite this, the competence of the role is often expected from the outset, with obvious implications for professional accountability.

Any gaps in the newly appointed nurse’s skills must be addressed once they are working in practice. This is achieved at additional cost to the employing practice and is influenced by several factors, not least the availability and accessibility of relevant training programmes. Consequently there is currently wide variation in the knowledge and skills base of GPNs. 

The role of the GPN is not only undefined but variable from practice to practice and despite the growth of this ‘new’ nursing profession there is no mandatory training for general practice nurses. It is estimated that at least 50% of the existing GPN workforce is over the age of 50 years and unless they can be replaced by suitably skilled nurses, the capacity and capability of the practice nurse workforce will be in jeopardy.

The rapid growth and development of practice nursing has also resulted in a specific workforce demographic. At a time when the role of the GPN is expanding, the NHS is facing the challenge of an ageing nursing workforce and there is currently a shortage of nurses with the required level of skills undertaking the role. Working in primary care is not usually regarded as a viable career choice for nurses as the GPN role is not fully understood, with no clear career pathway and a lack of training opportunities.

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