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Practices in Wales must honour GPN pay rise – or risk having to hand back funds

Practices in Wales must honour GPN pay rise – or risk having to hand back funds

Practices in Wales that fail to pass on the recently agreed 5% pay rise for nurses and other surgery staff could see that money taken back by their local health boards.

Earlier in the month, it was announced that Welsh GP practices will receive a 4.4% funding uplift backdated to April last year, as contract negotiations for 2023/24 ended without agreement.

The £20m pot increase to the General Medical Services (GMS) contract includes a 5% uplift to pay for all general practice staff – a move welcomed by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

An amendment to the Statement of Financial Entitlements (SFE) that came into force on 9 February has stipulated that GMS contractors must award ‘at least a 5% pay increase’ for staff, backdated to 1 April 2023.

It goes on to say: ‘The local health board may recover this amount from a GMS contractor… if it becomes apparent that the GMS contractor has not increased the remuneration of their practice staff by at least 5% for the financial year 2023/2024.’

BMA Wales said practices will be obliged to declare to their health boards that they have implemented the necessary pay rises.

Although the requirement to ensure pay awards are passed on is not new in Wales, the ring-fencing provides assurance for staff at a time when pressures on costs are high.

This in contrast to England where practices are left to determine pay rises themselves. Many have not been able to fulfil the 6% increase promised by the government because extra funding they were given fell short.

Almost half of general practice nursing staff in England – 44% – did not receive a pay rise at all last year, a survey by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) recently revealed.

Meanwhile, the SFE in Wales explains more detail about the Global Sum uplift, which will see payments made at a value of £117.48 per weighted patient, backdated to 1 April 2023.

Of the £117.48, the figure of £2.71 has been allocated to cover the 5% pay rise for all practice staff.

The increase in monies and all arrears will be reflected in the pay run made to practices at the end of February.

The BMA’s GP committee (GPC) Wales has reiterated its position that the uplift is inadequate and sub-inflationary.

GPC Wales chair Dr Gareth Oelmann said: ‘There is a mutual recognition of the need for a wider debate about the priorities for Welsh general practice in future and we look forward to these discussions in earnest, in particular around resource restoration.

‘GPC Wales remains firm in our commitment to fight for the profession and we will continue to push for better for ourselves and our patients.’

Gareth Thomas, business manager at West Quay Medical Centre in Barry, said he welcomed the fact that the pay rise will have to be passed on to ‘hard working staff in general practice’.

However, he added, the increase falls shy of the amount staff deserve, warning that because of this ‘practices will still be struggling to fill vacancies, and competing with higher paid jobs in other sectors’.

This article was first published by our sister title Management in Practice

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