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Practice nurses are nurses who are based in a GP’s surgery and are paid directly by the surgery itself. They work as part of the primary healthcare team (in other words, doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants and pharmacists). Depending on the size of the surgery, practice nurses may work on their own or in a team of nurses.
The role of practice nurses is very varied. They provide nursing care, medical care, information and support. Over the past 20 years the role of the practice nurse has changed greatly from that of a doctor’s assistant to being a health professional in their own right.
Practice nurses are well qualified and normally administer medical care unsupervised, only asking the GP for advice when needed. They provide hands-on medical care and information and support.
What can a practice nurse do for me?
Practice nurses can help you to be seen more quickly at your surgery and will assess and arrange the care that you need. They will:
- measure your blood pressure to test if you have high blood pressure
- assess you if you are at high risk of having a heart attack or stroke to see if you would benefit from treatment
- help you to stop smoking, lose weight, increase your activity, improve your eating habits and reduce your alcohol intake, by giving you information, advice and support
- measure your cholesterol level and explain what the results mean
- talk through your questions and concerns and give you information to take home to read
- take your blood pressure regularly (if you have high blood pressure) and assess whether or not your treatment needs to be changed
- report any changes or needs to your GP.
Some practice nurses run specialist clinics in particular subject areas, including blood pressure. In addition, some practice nurses are now able to prescribe medicines, so they may be able to change or adjust the dose of your medicines without you needing to see your GP.