The weather is getting colder as we head into winter and near the festive season. Inevitably this means that our local health services will begin to experience extreme pressure. I hear from patients all the time that what they need is an appointment with their family doctor (GP) when they want it, as the workload of our family doctors increases there are other options. As a registered nurse, midwife and health visitor in Rotherham for over 30 years, I often ask the question – Do you really need to see a doctor, or could you see your practice nurse?
Having followed my mother into nursing back in the 1970s I am passionate about the profession. Nurses are constant throughout a patient’s healthcare and are often the first contact you have with health services, making people feel safe throughout their care.
Next time you need advice and support about your health, stop and think before asking for an appointment with the GP and ask yourself if the practice nurse could help. They might just be able to help you get the right treatment to help you get better quicker. Practice nurses work closely with your GP within your General Practice team which may also include Health Care Assistants, pharmacists and dieticians. Many have undertaken additional specialist training to enable them to provide advanced nursing care and to prescribe medications. You can usually book appointments to see the practice nurse for a range of long term conditions including; diabetes, Asthma, COPD, coronary heart disease, and epilepsy as well as providing advice about family planning, stopping smoking, blood pressure control and weight management. Your practice nurse can undertake a range of routine procedures such as ear syringing, taking blood and giving flu vaccinations. Some nurses can prescribe medication and others may run minor ailment clinics treating coughs, colds, sore throats, urine infections and many other conditions. They can refer you to your GP or other specialists and they can signpost to other options for advice such as your community pharmacy. Your practice nurse plays an important part in providing advice and care at any time but particularly over the winter months.
I often hear, and believe it’s true, that our nurses are the heart and soul of the healthcare system.