It is ‘inherently unfair’ and ‘disappointing’ that some general practice nurses (GPNs) in England risk missing out on a full 6% pay rise because of the way the uplift is funded, those among the profession have told Nursing in Practice.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and BMA General Practitioners Committee England (GPCE) this week issued a statement warning that not all general practice staff would receive the 6% pay uplift promised by the government this year because of the complex funding formula used.
Today, GPNs have responded with concern for what the situation around pay will mean for both the workforce and their patients.
Advanced nurse practitioner and chair of the RCN’s Women’s Health Forum, Ruth Bailey, told Nursing in Practice: ‘It is inherently unfair that the complex system of funding means that some GPN’s will get the full 6% uplift and others will not, and this will do little to address the workforce crisis in primary care.
‘It is essential that GPNs have a fair and transparent pay scale, and terms and conditions that reflect our skills and experience and until this is embedded, the health and wellbeing of patients will suffer.’
Meanwhile, research fellow at the University of York and a registered nurse by background, Dr Helen Anderson said it was ‘disappointing that some nurses working in general practice may not get the full wage increase as publicised’.
Dr Anderson, who is currently leading a study around GPN retention, told Nursing in Practice: ‘Nurses are the backbone of general practice, but already feel that their contribution is undervalued, invisible and goes unrecognised and this is mirrored in the lack of parity of pay, terms and conditions compared to nurses employed under Agenda for Change.’
She warned how the Covid-19 pandemic ‘further exacerbated issues around pay and conditions and some nurses have re-evaluated their working lives, retired early or left general practice or the profession of nursing altogether’.
‘With recruitment and retention already at crisis point, the value of nursing in general practice needs to be reflected in equitable pay, terms and conditions in order to support the future of this highly skilled and knowledgeable workforce,’ added Dr Anderson.
GPN Donna Loose said the current situation around pay ‘demoralises and devalues’ the role of nurses in general practice.
She warned that ‘pay discrepancies’ were negatively impacting recruitment and retention, and that some staff ‘leave one practice for another, for the same work [for] better pay’.
‘The impact is felt hardest by those on the floor and the knock-on impact to patient care,’ she told Nursing in Practice.
In addition, advanced nurse practitioner Sandra Dyer said the ‘variable’ pay increase for GPNs and other practice staff ‘will do little to address real terms cost of living related pay decreases year on year’.
Pay and conditions for salaried staff, including GPNs, ‘needs to be urgently addressed’ to be brought in line with those employed through primary care network funding (PCN), she suggested.
Ms Dyer told Nursing in Practice that the ‘current gap between the two groups is growing inequity and is having a very significant negative impact on the GPN workforce [regarding] recruitment retention’.
On Monday, Patricia Marquis, RCN director for England, told GPNs they ‘deserve to receive fair pay, and it’s important we understand the full details of this provision and its funding to support you to access every additional penny you should receive’.
In the summer, the government promised a 6% pay uplift for all salaried general practice staff, including nurses.
It was confirmed earlier this month that the global sum given to GP practices had been increased to help fund the rise and would be distributed by November.
However, because the global sum allocates funding per patients, based on various factors including demographics, concerns have been raised that 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.
In recent weeks, nurses have been urged to speak to their employers about the global sum uplift, while deputy chief nursing officer Acosia Nyanin stressed GPNs must be ‘really clear’ about their pay uplift entitlement.
This year, the lack of growth among the GPN workforce in England has been described as ‘seriously worrying’, while alarm around the increasing use of roles under the additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS) has also been raised.