I’m a General Practice Nurse (GPN) in a culturally diverse practice on the outskirts of Manchester. With an average of over 7,500 patients at each of our GP practices we deliver everything from public health to palliative care.
I’ve just finished an appointment with a lady who has been through a traumatic journey with cancer. She told me about her initial diagnosis, her feelings of fear and anxiety, family upheaval, the harrowing side effects of chemotherapy and her eventual remission. She is an inspiring individual; having survived cancer, she now feels invigorated and renewed. Her life has taken on a whole new meaning. I feel very humbled by her story, and very emotionally charged.
This morning I also counselled a patient with diabetes who is struggling to mitigate the weight gain he is experiencing with his insulin therapy. Together we reviewed test results, discussed medications and side effects, reviewed his insulin regime, and negotiated a shared plan of care. After that, I met with a family who is grieving for a relative far away. They required urgent travel assessments – including eight sets of vaccinations and prescriptions for malaria prophylaxis. Altogether this morning I saw fifteen patients, all of whom have complex health needs, and require intensive support and education.
In the afternoon I undertook cervical cytology, took blood tests and performed an urgent ECG. For a seven-year-old with brittle asthma I initiated new medication, and agreed a care plan with the family. The evening saw me help a distressed elderly patient whose newly diagnosed heart failure has left her struggling to cope with her daily activities and feeling socially isolated. Her frequent breathless episodes and complex medication regime triggered a comprehensive history, pulse oximetry, blood tests, and checks of BP and weight. I listened, offered reassurance and made sure she was seen by our GP for immediate advice and support.
The nursing workforce is such a vital part of the planned shift in healthcare delivery. Nurses can – and do – improve outcomes. At my practice, we have recently introduced access to patient records to support patients with health literacy, self-care and management.
Locally, our practices are identifying appropriate high-quality education and training to meet the needs of patient groups. We are developing learning environments, so patients, nurses, GPs and Allied Health care professionals can network, and share experiences - working together to improve health outcomes.
This is General Practice – and nurses are at the heart of everything.