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RCN teams up with BMA committee to ensure ‘fairer terms’ for practice nurses

RCN teams up with BMA committee to ensure ‘fairer terms’ for practice nurses

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and BMA General Practitioners Committee England (GPCE) have pledged to work together to ensure ‘fully funded fairer terms’ for nurses working in general practice.

In a joint statement issued today, the organisations said that while they welcomed a recent pay increase for general practice staff, it ‘does not go far enough’ to address the current cost-of-living crisis, workforce attrition or employment terms disparities.

They said they would work ‘closely together’ to ‘ensure fully funded fairer terms for nurses in general practice as an integral part of the general practice team’.

‘It is well understood that nurses in general practice play a fundamental role in health promotion and prevention,’ the statement added.

‘Their role is essential to the provision of safe and effective care.’

It added: ‘The evidence base and role of nursing staff in general practice is well proven, and their familiarity with patients as trusted regulated nursing professionals is unquestioned.’

Crucial to the successful recruitment and retention of these ‘essential roles’ was ‘securing contractual parity with trust nursing roles, through protected funding and dedicated development programmes’, they said.

Earlier this year, the RCN’s annual congress heard some general practice nurses (GPNs) were being handed just pay rises of just 1%, while concerns were also raised around maternity and sick pay discrepancies.

In the summer, the government announced all salaried general practice staff in England, including nurses, should receive a 6% pay uplift.

And this month it was confirmed the global sum had been increased to help fund the rise and would be distributed to practices by November.

The uplift will be backdated to April 2023 and it is down to the ‘responsibility of practices to decide on arrangements for staff salary uplifts’.

However, the RCN and GPCE said the way the expenses uplift is applied ‘leads to some inequity’ among GP practices and ‘may not translate’ to a 6% uplift for all practice staff.

This is because the formula used to apply the global sum allocates funding per patient based on various factors, such as age, sex, additional needs and rurality of a GP practice, meaning some practices will not receive enough additional funding to cover an entire 6% uplift for all salaried staff, while others could get more than they need.

‘It will be important for us to hear local intelligence about how practices are impacted by this,’ the statement said.

‘This will allow RCN and GPCE to gather insight into how the pay uplift conversations are going and to build a case to government for fairer pay uplift mechanisms for all staff in general practice.’

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.

‘If you have concerns about receiving the uplift, ask your employer to be transparent about the additional percentage funding they have received for this intended uplift, and what calculations they have carried out to determine the pay increase they can offer you,’ added the RCN and GPCE statement.

The organisations stressed that securing recurrent pay uplifts for all general practice staff was ‘vital for the future success’ of the sector.

And ‘key’ to successful negotiations with the government on forthcoming contracts for 2024/25 and 2023/26 was ‘making the case that staff should be fairly paid and benefit from rewarding working conditions’.

The statement was signed by RCN director for England Patricia Marquis and GPCE chair Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer.

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.

Speaking at the Labour Party conference earlier this month, vice chair of the RCN Council Paul Vaughan stressed GPNs were not being properly ‘recognised or rewarded’.

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