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RCN ‘closely monitoring’ delayed pay rise for GPNs in Northern Ireland

RCN ‘closely monitoring’ delayed pay rise for GPNs in Northern Ireland

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said it will ‘closely’ monitor the implementation of a delayed pay rise for general practice nurses (GPNs) in Northern Ireland.

The Department of Health in Northern Ireland has confirmed to Nursing in Practice that health minister Robin Swann has ‘approved funding’ for a 6% increase for general practice staff ‘expenses’ for 2023/24.

This is understood to primarily cover pay and will be backdated to April 2023.

However, the department stressed that as independent contractors, it was down to individual GP employers to ‘implement uplifts’ for their staff, including GPNs, and to decide whether or not all funds would be spent on pay.

Funding has also been agreed to implement the recommendations of the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists Remuneration (DDRB) – which included a 6% pay rise specifically for GPs in Northern Ireland.

Previously, health minister Mr Swann acknowledged that pay settlements in Northern Ireland for 2023/24 were ‘long overdue’ and had been delayed by ‘political and budgetary instability’.

Nurses on Agenda for Change contracts working for Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland recently rejected a delayed pay proposal from the government – made up of a 5% consolidated uplift, as well as a one-off payment.

The situation comes after almost half of GPNs in England did not receive a pay increase for 2023/24, despite being promised a 6% uplift by the government.

This has been largely attributed to the complex funding formula used in England which meant some practices did not receive enough funding, while others received more than enough, to fulfil the uplifts.

Rita Devlin, executive director of RCN Northern Ireland, said: ‘The RCN welcomes the announcement that nurses working in general practice will be awarded a pay uplift for 2023/24, which although disappointingly late, is now in parity with colleagues in England.’

Ms Devlin said the college wanted to see the pay award for GPNs in Northern Ireland ‘award implemented without delay’ and stressed it would be ‘monitoring this closely’.

She added: ‘General practice nurses provide essential care within GP surgeries and must be paid appropriately for the care they provide.

‘Nursing staff across the board have been struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and in Northern Ireland have had to wait longer than anywhere else in the UK to receive a pay rise.’

In February the RCN in Wales welcomed a 5% pay uplift for GPNs, reacting to a rise that  ‘although disappointingly late, is in parity with the NHS’.

Last month It was announced that nurses employed directly by general practices in Scotland would receive a 6.5% pay increase for 2023/24, with the award backdated to April 1 2023 and to be applied from October.

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