Nursing in Practice Autumn 2021 (issue 121) - Page 10


‘ The brink of collapse ’: how will we cope ?

Mimi Launder looks at the difficulties nurses face in preparing for what is expected to be a period of unprecedented demand over the coming months

General practice nurses have worked harder than ever since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic . They have risen to every unexpected challenge and kept services running while carrying out mass vaccination , often with a depleted workforce due to staff illness and pre-existing vacancies . Not only that , but they ’ ve had to deal with rising levels of abuse from the public .

Practices are usually quieter over the summer months but thanks to Covid and the backlog of services it has created there was no such respite this year . Levels of stress and burnout among staff are worryingly high . Now the busiest time of the year for primary care and the NHS is upon us . Practice nurses will be integral to delivering the biggest-ever flu vaccination campaign this year , alongside Covid booster doses and jabs for children aged 12 to 15 who take up the offer ( see page 5 ). This is on top of other vital vaccinations and continuing to tackle the huge care backlog .
Despite this heavy workload , Covidrelated funding for practices seems to have dried up .
NHS England delivered a £ 150m ‘ Covid capacity fund ’ for practices up to March 2021
and a further £ 120m for
April to September . The Department of Health and Social Care gave £ 270m between
November 2020 and September this year . Neither NHS England nor the DHSC would directly confirm to Nursing in Practice whether general practices would receive any funding to support them over the extremely difficult months ahead . And it remains unclear how much , if any , of the extra £ 5.4bn awarded to the NHS in
September will come into primary care . In August the BMA launched a petition calling on the Government to commit more funding to practices because of ‘ unmanageable ’ workloads . It is still awaiting a response from ministers . And in July , Devon LMC warned that GP surgeries in the county would be on the ‘ brink of collapse ’ without urgent action – a picture mirrored across the country .
As nurses consider the scale of the challenge ahead , they are asking : how will we cope ? nursinginpractice . com Autumn 2021