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RCN ‘building alliance’ in fight for better practice nurse pay

RCN ‘building alliance’ in fight for better practice nurse pay
Patricia Marquis

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is working to ‘find allies’ across primary care as part of its ongoing fight to secure better pay for general practice nurses (GPNs) in England.

RCN director for England, Patricia Marquis, said the union was looking to work with GPs, local medical committees (LMCs) and chief nurses in integrated care boards (ICBs) to create a ‘collective narrative’ around nurse pay.

It comes after a recent survey by the RCN found more than three-quarters of GP nursing staff did not receive the full 6% pay rise promised for 2024/25, and that almost half received no pay rise at all.

In a webinar this week, Ms Marquis said the RCN had shared the findings with those across the primary care system, as well as with MPs and government.

She said the union was looking to ‘build an alliance’ with LMCs and ICB chief nurses to ask them to assess what is happening with GPN pay in their local area and to support a call for practices to be transparent over funding in their areas.

As part of the RCN’s recent survey, almost two-thirds of respondents said they were concerned their employer was not being transparent about staff pay.

Of those, a further 78% said they had asked their employer to communicate with them about the pay award, but that only 32% received a response.

And of those who received a response, more than a quarter said their employer told them funds were needed for running costs other than staff pay.

Issues around GPN pay stem from a complex funding formula in which the government provides funds to practices based on various factors including patient demographics.

In October 2023, it was confirmed that the global sum given to GP practices had been increased to help fund a 6% pay rise – promised by the government – for employed staff, including GPNs.

However, because the global sum allocates funding per patients, it became clear that some practices would not receive enough additional funding to cover the rise, while others could get more than they needed.

The RCN teamed up with the British Medical Association (BMA) last year to call for joint working on pay terms and conditions for nurses working in general practice, and for enough money to be provided to practices so they can pass on the full 6%.

With the RCN’s latest survey results adding weight to the argument, Ms Marquis said the union was continuing to ‘put pressure on the government around the current 6%’.

However, she said that ‘in reality, our real goal is on the medium- to longer-term, where we build momentum collectively around the problem’.

In particular, this was around finding ‘a more sustainable funding model for general practice, and certainly a better employment model that enables in our case, nurses employed by general practice, to secure better terms and conditions than the ones that are precarious at the moment because of the funding mechanisms that exist’.

Ms Marquis added: ‘Our energies now have got to turn really onto the political system to try and find allies in this issue, as we try to push forward with a longer-term solution for pay, and the general practice funding mechanisms.’

RCN chief executive Professor Pat Cullen will also be meeting ‘very soon’ with primary care minister Dame Andrea Leadsom, noted Ms Marquis. ‘And this issue is at the top of her issues to raise,’ she added.

The RCN webinar this week also raised uncertainty around nurses being added to the general practice Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme.

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