Nurse leadership programme will help develop Suffolk workforce

A new nurse leadership programme will help to keep talented healthcare professionals within the county and reduce some of the pressures currently faced by general practice, those behind the project have said.

Suffolk GP Federation has launched the course to help tackle ongoing issues around recruitment and retention in primary care.

The three-day leadership programme aims to give nurses the necessary skills to develop and grow within their role.

Paul Driscoll, Medical Director of Suffolk GP Federation, said: “The increasing pressure on primary care and the problems that have been experienced with recruiting GPs are well documented. However, what’s less well known is that there’s just as much of an issue with recruiting nurses. It’s a growing problem and one that we felt had to be addressed.

“Nurses and nurse practitioners are the cornerstone of modern general practice, running most of the chronic disease management, minor illness and health promotion clinics.

“It’s therefore vital that they feel well supported and can recognise their full potential through relevant training and development.

“If we can encourage nurses to stay in the profession then it will reduce pressure in other areas – easing the workload of GPs and other healthcare professionals so they can concentrate on the patients that need them most.”

The development of the nursing workforce within general practice has been identified as a key priority within Suffolk and North East Essex’s five year forward view, which sets out key goals up to 2021.

Judy Oliver, managing director of Judy Oliver and Co which is delivering the leadership course, said: “Each element of the programme is highly relevant to the world of general practice within the wider NHS, but, at the same time, challenging and provocative to open the minds of participants to different perspectives and empower them to develop their career further.”

Amanda Lyes, chief corporate services officer, NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk and NHS West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups, said: “Nurses have an integral role in the delivery of primary care services and it is important they are supported to develop and enhance their skills. The introduction of this programme is positive step forward that we hope will help address recruitment issues and give a boost to nursing within GP practices.”

Suffolk GP Federation has also been working with the University of Suffolk to develop  learning opportunities in Primary Care’ for  nurses who would like to work in a general practice setting.

Sheila Smyth, Director of Community Care Services at Suffolk GP Federation said: “Currently, the majority of student nurses in Suffolk spend most of their time training at a hospital, meaning only a handful get to experience life in a GP surgery.

“However, what we often find is that those who do get the chance to work within general practice tend to stay and pursue a career.

“We want to try and build on that and offer more practical experience, providing further training for both students and current staff so they can understand the opportunities – and of course the challenges – of a career within primary care.”

Rachel Heathershaw, Director of Workforce Engagement at the University of Suffolk ,Said:

“We are exploring opportunities for student nurses to have placements within GP practices during their pre-registration course. In addition we are working collaboratively to develop learning workshops and materials for nurses who wish to work in this environment or refresh their knowledge and skills.”

For more information about Suffolk GP Federation, please visit

For more information about Nurse education courses at the University of Suffolk, please contact Amanda Gibson on for details.