Advanced Clinical Practitioners in Primary Care in the UK: A Qualitative Study of Workforce Transformation.Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Jun 23; 17(12)IJ
Escalating costs and changing population demographics are putting pressure on primary care systems to meet ever more complex healthcare needs. Non-medical 'advanced clinical practitioner' (ACP) roles are increasingly being introduced to support service transformation. This paper reports the findings of a qualitative evaluation of nursing ACP roles across General Practices in one region of the UK. Data collection involved telephone interviews with 26 participants from 3 different stakeholder groups based in 9 practice sites: ACPs (n = 9), general practitioners (n = 8) and practice managers (n = 9). The data was analysed thematically. The study found a high degree of acceptance of the ACP role and affirmation of the important contribution of ACPs to patient care. However, significant variations in ACP education, skills and experience led to a bespoke approach to their deployment, impeding system-wide innovation and creating challenges for recruitment and ongoing professional development. In addition, a context of high workforce pressures and high service demand were causing stress and there was a need for greater mentorship and workplace support. System wide changes to ACP education and support are required to enable ACPs to realise their full potential in primary care in the UK.