The programme, introduced by the NHS in Tower Hamlets in 2008, develops and mentors nurses giving them both the theory and the working knowledge to improve the lives of local people. Nurses are recruited to work in GP surgeries at the same time that they are studying and learning the theory behind the specialist role of being a practice nurse. Nurses who have completed the programme, have enjoyed a 96%* success rate of gaining employment in a GP surgery.An independent evaluation of Open Doors, carried out by London South Bank University in 2010, found the scheme to be highly effective. The results, featured in a recent version of the highly regarded Journal of Nursing Education and Practice (2013, Vol. 3, No. 10) show that the scheme is 'an effective learning programme' that "…if replicated may provide a positive method for training general practice nurses who speedily become competent in the working knowledge, skills and aptitude required to improve the lives of local people".Through the programme, the nurses are trained to manage diabetes, asthma, lung conditions like COPD and other chronic and long term conditions that are prevalent across east London. Graduates of the programme are also trained in immunisations and cervical cytology screening. These are all areas that are earmarked by the government for improving access for patients and quality of care. Having highly skilled nurses in a GP practice able to care for people and treat people for these conditions and more makes treatment and care more accessible to local people.Dr. Sam Everington, Chair of NHS Tower Clinical Commissioning Group, said:"It is important to develop and deliver focused healthcare services in an area considered deprived. Practice nursing roles in inner city areas have traditionally been hard posts to recruit to. Open Doors has taken those problems and worked through them to the satisfaction of all involved. The programme has also helped to further demonstrate the extent of the contribution nursing plays in primary care. It recruits nurses who have a long-term influence on the health of the population. They are employed by a GP practice and supported every step of the way by NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group." As the NHS transforms the team behind 'Open Doors' will be looking to new ways to extend the project. Vicky Souster, Manager of the Open Doors programme said:"Nurses who work in GP practices are vital. They do so much to improve and maintain the quality of life for local people. Nurses who wanted to work in a GP practice found that they have to have experience as a practice nurse to be employed as a practice nurse. We started this scheme to ensure that nurses could make the leap to practice nursing while being supported both academically and practically."
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