The practice nurse’s role is developing in response to the Department of Health and Children’s strategic plans to make primary care the first point of contact for a person needing healthcare.1
Plans to abolish fees for GP care and focus on the prevention of illness and management of chronic diseases will involve the development of the whole primary healthcare team. According to the Irish Practice Nurses Association (IPNA), there are approximately 1,700 practice nurses in Ireland;2 a sizeable number given that there are approximately 3,500 GPs. 211 practice nurses are accredited as clinical nurse specialists (CNS), two have been accredited as advanced nurse practitioners (ANP) in primary care and 11 IPNA members are now registered nurse prescribers.
Practice nurses are privately employed by GPs and must be registered general nurses (ie, on the live active RGN or PHN Register of An Bord Altranais, the nursing board). Practice nurses now represent an important part of healthcare services in general practice: undertaking immunisations, cervical cytology, screening, health promotion, phlebotomy, weight management, smoking cessation, women’s health, men’s health, wound management, travel vaccinations, ear care, and management of chronic conditions such as asthma, COPD, and diabetes.