Nurses working in general practice are the ‘gatekeepers’ of health and social care and ‘deserve their pay to be looked at’, the chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said.
During a media briefing at the RCN’s annual congress today, Pat Cullen was pressed by Nursing in Practice on what the college is doing to support general practice nurses (GPNs) regarding their pay and the workplace challenges they are facing.
Primary care ‘is in demise’ and ‘under immense pressure’, said Ms Cullen in response.
‘Our patients are struggling to get appointments, not just with their general practitioner, but with our primary care nurses,’ she added.
She stressed that nurses working in general practice and primary care were the ‘first point of contact’ and ‘the gatekeepers of health and social care’.
‘They deserve their pay to be looked at, alongside those within the NHS,’ Ms Cullen told Nursing in Practice.
She claimed the RCN had ‘started some work on this within the college’ and pledged to continue to do so.
Meanwhile, Nursing in Practice also asked Ms Cullen about the recent omission of nursing in the newly published primary care recovery plan for England.
When asked if she would have liked to have contributed to the blueprint, Ms Cullen said: ‘Absolutely.’
‘You cannot develop a plan for any part of health and social care without involving the people that you will be expecting to deliver it,’ she added.
‘When you don’t involve [nurses] from the outset, you get it wrong. That is a wrong move and that will have shortcomings as a consequence.’
However, she stressed it was ‘never too late’.
‘They need to come forward now and listen to the voice of nursing. Once you ignore the voice of nursing things go wrong within health care,’ added Ms Cullen.