The government must provide additional funding if nurses working in general practice are left without the 6% pay uplift they were promised, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has urged.
In a letter to primary care minister Neil O’Brien, the RCN warned thousands of nursing staff working across general practices risk being denied the full 6% because of the complex funding formula used to distribute the uplift.
Written by RCN director for England, Patricia Marquis, the letter stressed general practice nurses (GPNs) were ‘already undervalued’ and that uncertainty over their pay uplift would ‘only compound this’.
This week, the RCN joined forces with the BMA General Practitioners Committee as part of a pledge to ensure ‘fully funded fair terms’ for GPNs and warned that not all general practice staff would receive the 6% pay uplift promised by the government in the summer.
Earlier this month it was confirmed that the global sum had been increased to help fund the rise and would be distributed to practices by November.
However, because the global sum allocates funding per patients, based on various factors including demographics, it means some practices will not receive enough additional funding to cover an entire 6% rise for salaried staff, while others could get more than they need.
Today, the RCN has called on the government to confirm the ‘status’ of nursing pay in general practice in England for this financial year, and to commit to additional funding if nursing staff are left without at least the 6% they were entitled to.
In her letter, Ms Marquis wrote: ‘Nursing staff in general practice provide vital primary care to their local communities and are the bedrock of the services available in general practice surgeries.’
While warning of the already existing disparities between employment terms for nursing staff working in general practice compared to other parts of the NHS, she added: ‘Now, their pay rise is months late, and for many the money promised could be missing.
‘The RCN is unequivocal that all nursing staff working in general practice should receive the same 6% increase in pay as salaried GPs – as the government announced in July.
‘Since that time, it has become clear that this promised increase is at risk for many working in practices that will not receive the full funding.’
GPNs ‘play a critical role in preventative care, early detection and addressing the backlog in primary care services’, added Ms Marquis.
‘They already feel undervalued, and uncertainty over whether they will receive a pay uplift which your department made clear they are entitled to but may never come, will only compound this.’
The RCN has also said it will work with members to ‘report issues to local medical committees and government if the promised pay rise is not received in a timely manner’.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We are hugely grateful to GP nursing staff and their teams for the work they do.
‘Working closely with the British Medical Association, we accepted the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration’s recommendation in full to give salaried general practice staff a 6% pay rise backdated to April.
‘The GP contract has now been uplifted and we expect practices to pass this uplift onto salaried staff, including nurses.’
They added: ‘More widely, we are working with NHS England to grow the workforce with over 17,200 more nurses in the NHS than last year.’