The Open Doors General Practice Nurse (GPN) Programme has been running since 2008. The programme facilitates the transition of registered nurses from secondary care to primary care. Nurses undertaking the GPN programme at the City university of London, study towards either a degree or postgraduate diploma. The recruitment process is thorough, involving several stages. Demand for the programme is high and places are limited. Experienced staff provides one-to-one support and development in the practice setting. The Open Doors team also delivers group teaching sessions to Health Care Assistants (HCAs) and those wishing to become HCAs. This includes the Care Certificate, Clinical skills, and the HCA forum.
There has been a significant change in staff during the pandemic, a new manager and four new clinical tutors started, three of whom were all ex-Open Doors trainees. During this period one Clinical Tutor retired.
The interest in the Open Doors programme was high with almost 70 applications for the GPN programme. Four trainees commenced the programme in February 2021.
The action learning group (ALG) moved online. ALG helps the GPN trainees bridge the gap between theory and practice. It includes teaching that may not be covered in the university, as well as some external visits. It provides a safe environment to discuss their time in practice and is facilitated by one of the team.
Quality monitoring of host practices continued during the pandemic and moved online. The four first-year trainees and three second-year trainees are all doing well. This is demonstrated in the practice reviews which are led by the Open Doors Manager and enable the clinical tutor, practice mentor, and the trainee to contribute. The purpose of the review is to ensure suitable learning opportunities are provided, review progress, address any issues and focus on development needs.
Three trainee GPNs finished their two-year training in January 2021. Two were employed in Tower Hamlets, the other was due to go on maternity leave. An evaluation of the programme was undertaken, and the feedback received was positive.
Much of the group teaching was put on hold during the lockdown. This has been restarted, and where possible carried out face to face or moved online. Virtual delivery has incorporated various teaching methods such as PowerPoint presentations and video clips as well the use of software such as poll everywhere and Mentimeter which allows for attendees to participate using a smart device.
In December 2020 and January 2021, the team planned and delivered at pace new training on the COVID-19 vaccines to HCAs across the Borough. This was well received. Seven health care staff participated in the Clinical skills course in 2020.