General practice nurses (GPNs) are set to be included within the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS), the government has confirmed.
The Department of Health and Social Care has said GPNs and mental health practitioners will be added to the scheme – which allows primary care networks to reimburse the salaries of some staff – within next year’s GP contract.
The move has been recently called for by the profession, amid serious concerns that the role of the GPN would soon be lost otherwise.
And a petition calling for GPNs and GPs to be added to the scheme recently surpassed 10,000 signatures.
The ARRS scheme, introduced in 2019, currently covers 17 roles including nursing associates, advanced nurse practitioners and pharmacists.
The Royal College of Nursing’s primary care nursing lead Heather Randle recently told Nursing in Practice that the initiative has seen nursing associates and other roles increasingly being used in place of GPNs.
She warned the way ARRS is currently used in primary care is ‘devaluing GPNs as the skilled workforce they are’.
And this week, new research from the Queen’s Nursing Institute revealed GPNs were ‘expected’ to supervise and train ARRS colleagues despite in many cases being paid less.
The news comes after our sister title Pulse exclusively reported that the government had initially offered a 1.9% uplift to baseline GMS funding for the 2024/25 contract.
The British Medical Association said this offer was ‘grossly inadequate’ and GP Committee England chair Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer met with primary care minister Andrea Leadsom in efforts to improve it.
Dame Leadsom’s letter in response revealed that the government will reconsider its GP funding uplift offer once the independent pay review body (DDRB) makes a recommendation in ‘the coming months’.
She also indicated that funding could be ringfenced within the GMS contract to pay for GP staff.
The GPC voted down the government’s 1.9% uplift offer at its meeting yesterday, and instructed negotiators to continue talks ahead of a referendum to members on 1 March.
Today, a DHSC spokesperson said: ‘This contract will reduce unnecessary and burdensome bureaucracy so they can spend more valuable time with their patients, while also giving them greater autonomy to run local practices.
‘Further pay uplifts may be made to the GP contract following the government’s response to the independent Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists Remuneration.’