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General practice nurses ‘demoralised’ following GP pay rise news

General practice nurses ‘demoralised’ following GP pay rise news

Nurses working in general practice have been left questioning ‘what about me’, following the news that salaried GPs are to receive a 6% pay rise.

It was announced on Thursday that pay scales for most doctors and dentists would increase by at least 6% this year, after the government accepted the recommendations from the independent pay review bodies in full.

According to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), practices will get a funding uplift to cover the pay rise for GPs and other staff.

This payment will be backdated to April 2023, and it is the ‘expectation’ of the DHSC that the funding will be ‘passed on promptly to all salaried general practice staff’.

However, while the move means that pay scales for most salaried GPs will rise, general practice nurses (GPNs) will remain dependent on their employer’s decision on whether to pass on the benefits of the uplift.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) GPN Forum co-chair Ellen Nicholson told Nursing in Practice today the move meant ‘that GPNs, as ever, are reliant on their employers passing on the uplift in the GP contract, which means that some will in full, some will offer a bit, and some won’t’.

This would ‘demoralise’ the workforce and leaves staff asking ‘why everybody else but me, why is their work considered more valuable than mine?’, said Ms Nicholson.

‘This doesn’t set a great precedent for people wanting to come into the career, so it really does impact on recruitment and retention,’ she told Nursing in Practice.

‘We’ve been talking about it [pay discrepancy] for years and years, and how much longer do we have to talk about it before change happens? We talk about how much we value nursing and yet it isn’t played out in the terms and conditions that general practice nurses see.’

Meanwhile, Helen Lewis, self-employed advanced nurse practitioner and Nursing in Practice advisory board member, said that distribution of funds to GPNs would likely vary significantly from practice to practice.

‘I think it’s very worrying,’ said Ms Lewis. ‘There’s already a huge imbalance in general practice.

‘There is also going to be this imbalance in power as the government gives power to the GPs even while it is the other staff and practice nurses that maintain the level of healthcare provided.’

Ms Lewis said that the deal would also be likely to damage team cohesion and stoke animosity between GPNs and salaried members of staff; impacting negatively on retention.

As employees of the practice, rather than salaried staff, GPN’s will not receive any pay rise unless their employer makes the decision to offer one.

The government’s announcement states that ‘as self-employed contractors to the NHS, it is for GP practices to determine uplifts in pay for their employees’.

Meanwhile, the minimum wage for salaried GPs will rise by between £3,900 and £5,900 in line with a five-year investment agreement made between NHS England and the British Medical Association in 2019.

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