Fresh calls have been made for a greater focus on the challenges around pay for nurses working in general practice, during this year’s Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Congress.
Speaking at the conference, which is being held in Brighton this week, members said the RCN had been unable to ‘grasp the nettle’ around the pay of general practice nurses (GPNs).
Questions were also raised around whether ‘a false expectation’ had been created regarding what recent improved pay deals for nurses working in the NHS would mean for GPNs.
The comments came during a matter for discussion, submitted by Jason Warriner of the RCN Public Health Forum, which explored ‘the successes and learning’ from the RCN’s current campaign for fair pay for nursing.
Mr Warriner drew attention to the use of the term ‘non-NHS workers’ throughout the ongoing pay dispute and claimed this had implied ‘that those not in the NHS are second class citizens’.
‘With a huge focus on the NHS, what impact will this have for members in the independent health and social care sectors?’ he said during the discussion.
‘Is there a false expectation that increased pay in the NHS will automatically transfer over to these sectors?’
This was a concern raised by some GPNs who spoke to Nursing in Practice last month around their concerns about what a pay rise in the NHS would mean for general practice.
Mr Warriner called on the RCN to ‘support all members, regardless of where we work, where we care for our patients so that we can benefit all sectors’.
The suggestion received widespread support from those in attendance, with a number of RCN members sharing support for general practice nursing.
Graham Revie, voting member for the RCN’s Glasgow branch, said that the college had ‘not yet met the challenge’ of GPN pay.
‘GP nurses have been raising the issue for so many years, but we still can’t grasp the nettle,’ he added.
In addition, Josie Tuck, representing the Advanced Nurse Practitioner Forum, also called for recognition of the ‘qualifications, skills, responsibility and experiences’ demonstrated by advanced nurse practitioners in primary care.
‘Sadly, many of our advanced nurse practitioners there remain [on] unfair and unequal pay conditions across the health sector,’ said Ms Tuck.
‘It is still the case that two advanced practitioners doing the same job, having done the same training, with the same qualifications, could be paid differently depending on where they work.
‘Whether advanced nurse practitioners are working in general practice, community settings in secondary care we must be seen as one NHS, we must be valued, and we must be paid fairly and equally.’
Meanwhile, Matthew Sidebottom, chief nurse and director of a private voluntary health service organisation, said that ‘we have not heard a lot about private sector pay’ but that it was ‘now time to have that conversation’.
Mr Sidebottom said that his organisation had matched the recent Agenda for Change pay award ‘at a huge cost to the organisation’.
However, he added that this led to a choice between cutting services or paying his staff fairly.