Almost half of general practice nursing staff in England did not receive a pay rise last year, a survey by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has revealed.
The nursing union has today issued a fresh call to the government to find ‘urgent’ funds to provide the full 6% pay rise general practice staff were promised last summer.
The survey of almost 1,500 nursing staff employed by GP practices found more than three-quarters (77%) did not receive the full 6% and almost half (44%) received no pay rise at all for 2023/24.
Just one in five (20%) of respondents received a pay award of 6% and among those who did, 19% were not given back pay to April 2023.
In addition, almost two-thirds (64%) of general practice nursing staff said they were concerned their employers were not being transparent about their pay award for 2023/24.
The RCN has now written to the government to ‘demand action’ on the issue and has submitted evidence to the spring budget.
It said it was ‘seeking a change’ to the funding model used to uplift the pay of employed general practice staff.
It was confirmed in October that the global sum given to GP practices had been increased to help fund the 6% pay rise, and that it would be distributed by November.
However, because the global sum allocates funding per patients, based on various factors including demographics, it became clear that some practices would not receive enough additional funding to cover the rise, while others could get more than they need.
In light of this, concerns over the discrepancies between the pay, terms and conditions of general practice nurses compared to that of those working in the NHS have ramped up in recent months, with nurses describing the situation as ‘inherently unfair’ and ‘disappointing’.
The RCN and the British Medical Association (BMA) also recently pledged to work together to ensure ‘fully funded fairer terms’ for nurses working in general practice amid concerns many nurses would miss out on their promised pay rise because of the complex funding formula currently used.
And today, the RCN once again urged the government to ‘step in and ensure every practice has enough funds to deliver the pay rise’ to all general practice nursing staff.
It warned that the failure to ensure nurses were given their pay uplift had left staff feeling ‘undervalued, with some saying they’re considering leaving the profession’.
Patricia Marquis, RCN England director, said: ‘The government should be valuing the role nursing staff in primary care play, instead of leaving them short-changed.
‘They keep communities healthy, detecting disease early, reducing hospital admissions, and preventing more patients from ending up at A&E.’
She added: ‘If the government was serious about addressing waiting lists, it would immediately provide ring-fenced money to fund the full 6% pay increase it promised general practice nursing staff.’
The news follows the announcement that general practice nurses (GPNs) are set to be included within the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) – which allows primary care networks (PCNs) to reimburse the salaries of some staff – within next year’s GP contract.
The move had been called for among the profession, amid fears the GPN role could otherwise be lost and concerns that nurses are increasingly being substituted by nursing associates, who are currently covered by the scheme.
Ms Marquis said earlier this week that adding GPNs to ARRS must see nursing pay ringfenced and equal to NHS terms and conditions ‘as a minimum’.
She also stressed ‘safeguards’ must be put in place to avoid further pay ‘inequity’ for GPNs.
A recent report from the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) found GPNs were ‘expected’ to supervise and train ARRS colleagues despite in many cases being paid less. The research, published last week, also showed GPNs were having to ‘perform rescue work’ because care was being left undone by ARRS staff.
Last year, deputy chief nursing officer for England Acosia Nyanin said there was a need to ensure GPNs are ‘really clear’ about the pay uplift they are ‘entitled to’.
The RCN surveyed members working in general practices in England between 23 November 2023 and 15 January 2024.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We hugely value and appreciate the vital work carried out by general practice nurses.
‘The government accepted the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body’s recommendation on salaried general practice staff pay and increased the 2023/24 GP contract to provide funding for them to receive a 6% pay rise. It is for GP practices to determine employee pay.’